A US judge unsealed a 2016 case involving Ghislaine Maxwell

This photo of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, his one-time girlfriend and recruiter of girls and young women, was presented by the US Attorney at Maxwell's trial, which took place after Epstein's death in prison.

This photo of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, his one-time girlfriend and recruiter of girls and young women, was presented by the US Attorney at Maxwell’s trial, which took place after Epstein’s death in prison.

The names of 150 recruiters, associates and “affiliates” of sex traffickers Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell will be made public after the first of the year, a federal judge has ruled. The names of three people will remain sealed.

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The ruling caps a five-year legal battle by the Miami Herald to obtain documents in a defamation lawsuit filed against Maxwell by victim Virginia Giuffre. The lawsuit was settled out of court in 2016, but much of the evidence in the case was sealed.

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Most of the names set to be revealed are people associated with Epstein who are already publicly known, and it’s unclear whether the documents contain any new details about Epstein’s associations. The New York financier abused more than 100 young women and girls from 2002 to 2018, serving a short stint in the Palm Beach stockade more than a decade ago. He was re-arrested, this time by federal agents, in July 2019 after a Miami Herald investigative series, Perversion of Justice, brought attention new to his case.

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He was found hanging by the neck in a New York jail cell in August of that year in what was ruled a suicide.

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Most of the victims were high school girls from Palm Beach, where Epstein owned a home.

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Senior U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska on Monday ordered the final cache of names unsealed in two weeks, allowing a 14-day window for appeals.

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The judge described two of the three people whose names will remain sealed — J. Does 58 and 124 — as “classic outsiders peripheral to the events at issue” who are not associated with Epstein and Maxwell. A third, Doe 133, was mistakenly identified in a photo, according to the judge, who noted that Doe was characterized as “an alleged perpetrator” by a reporter. The judge did not further elaborate on her decision.

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But even those considered “peripheral” to the case should be made public at this juncture, said Christine Walz, a partner at the law firm Holland & Knight, which has represented the Herald.

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“We are pleased that the court has decided to unseal information about more than 150 individuals. Epstein and Maxwell’s abuses were shielded for far too long. The court concluded that three individuals who were “peripheral” to the matter would remain sealed. We are evaluating that decision and continue to believe that all of the court files should be released.”

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Thirteen other people fought unsuccessfully to keep their names secret. The rest on the list — about 150 people — did not object to being identified, presumably because their names are already publicly known as associates or employees of Epstein and Maxwell, a British socialite who was convicted in 2021 of sex trafficking underage girls.

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Their circle of friends included former presidents, world leaders and moguls in business and finance. To date, only Maxwell has been convicted of crimes associated with Epstein’s sex trafficking operation.

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Judge Loretta Presca
Judge Loretta Presca

Since the Herald filed the lawsuit in 2018, thousands of pages have been released by Preska on a rolling basis. The piecemeal nature of the unsealing over the years resulted in many documents being released repeatedly, with different redactions each time, creating a puzzle with missing pieces. Aside from names being hidden, vast numbers of pages themselves were heavily redacted.

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However, this latest release will apparently have limited redactions — and thus possibly fill in some of the lingering questions about who helped Epstein.

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Those people who objected to their names being unsealed cited general privacy objections, not wanting to be associated with such a sinister matter or, in some instances, they insisted that the information about them contained in the lawsuit was false or a case of mistaken identity.

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One Doe, 170, claimed that revealing her name would place her life at risk in her home country. The Herald agreed to keep her name sealed and did not press to expose her.

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Among those who tried unsuccessfully to keep their names redacted is Leslie Wexner, the former CEO of the Limited and Victoria’s Secret. Other Does expected to be unsealed include Prince Andrew, financier Glenn Dubin, modeling agent Jean Luc Brunel, who committed suicide in a French prison; and people who worked as butlers, housekeepers or recruiters for Epstein.

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Earlier documents revealed that Giuffre alleged that Epstein and Maxwell directed her to have sex with a number of powerful men, including lawyer Alan Dershowitz, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, former Sen. George Mitchell, Dubin and others. All have previously denied her accusations.

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In 2022, as part of a legal settlement with Dershowitz, Giuffre admitted that she may have made a mistake in identifying Dershowitz as one of the men who abused her when she was 17.

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Virginia Giuffre
Virginia Giuffre

Dershowitz, who also fought to have the case documents unsealed, applauded the judge’s ruling.

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“From day one, I wanted every document produced,” he said.

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In a tweet, Giuffre thanked Preska, noting “There’s going to be a lot of nervous ppl over Christmas and New Years.”

This story was originally published December 20, 2023, 7:17 p.m.

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