DANIEL VAUGHAN: Burn Epstein’s empire to the ground – or risk public faith in institutions

August 12, 2019

It says something about the widespread lack of trust in our institutions that one man’s suicide could cause equally large conspiracy news silos on both the left and the right. But Jefferey Epstein’s death did just that — and frankly, I don’t know that I blame anyone who believes in a conspiracy theory on this story.

Like we saw in the #MeToo era with Harvey Weinstein and even the Catholic Church, Jeffrey Epstein’s arrest and potential prosecution represented a rare chance to burn our institutions free of what can only be called the most debased form of human filth you’ll find: child rapists.

But Epstein is gone, he won’t face his accusers, and the victims he left in his wake lack real closure.

Everyone already knew Epstein was connected to the entire world of power and money brokers on all sides of the political aisle. Just days before Epstein’s death, the Miami Herald — who has run laps around national “journalists” on this story — released a massive report going through the details of more than 2,000 unsealed court documents.

The Herald implicated some big names:

Besides [former Maine Sen. George] Mitchell, they include: the late scientist Marvin Minsky, modeling scout Jean-Luc Brunel, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, 71, Hyatt hotels magnate Tom Pritzker, 69, and prominent hedge fund manager Glenn Dubin, 62. Giuffre has previously identified Epstein’s lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, 80, and Prince Andrew, 59, as two of the people with whom she had sex.

The reason conspiracy theories so easily fit with this Epstein story is because he was allegedly running a massive child sex ring involving numerous political and cultural elites. It’s the sort of supervillain story of fiction — except it’s real in this case, and now the villain is dead.

The New York Times, talking to sources in prison, reported that Epstein was supposed to be checked on every 30 minutes. The jailed failed to follow those procedures. Further, “the jail had transferred his cellmate and allowed Mr. Epstein to be housed alone in a cell just two weeks after he had been taken off suicide watch, a decision that also violated the jail’s normal procedure, two officials said.”

Like the predators we’ve seen get outed by the media — like Weinstein — Epstein benefitted from a culture that enabled him, and a justice system that refused to stop him. He received preferential treatment to the very end — including when he wanted to die.

It’s the sort of thing that everyone tacitly sees as an admission that the system as constructed isn’t there to benefit them or society, but only elites who manipulate the rules to fit themselves. And if Epstein’s records truly do implicate all those people — and more — in a rigged system, it’s no wonder conspiracy theories have popped up to explain these circumstances.

Fortunately, this is not the end of the road. Prosecutors included a conspiracy charge in their case against Epstein, which means federal investigators have other people in their sights — namely, those who enabled this level of depravity.

But again, the fact that federal prosecutors can even point to “a circle of close associates whom accusers said helped recruit, train and coerce them into catering to Mr. Epstein” is an indictment against the people and institutions meant to protect against such threats. Much like Weinstein’s case, there’s more to this than just government incompetence — our culture created this and enabled its existence.

And it seems like every segment of our elite institutions ran in circles with Epstein — which means that when it comes to his disgusting empire, all I can say is: burn it all to the ground. Everything that Epstein touched or came into contact with should be cast onto the ash-heap of history as a warning to all other depraved minds.

#MeToo as a revelatory force on society has revealed not just numerous accounts of sexual assault or wrongdoing, but straight-up villains, representing the worst human nature has to offer. Epstein’s name will enter the cultural lexicon with Weinstein as an epithet for a culture that created monsters.

It’s somewhat perverse that the media will sometimes describe Epstein as simply a man promoting underage prostitution. That’s not what was happening here; Epstein was a person who enslaved women as sex objects for himself and his cohorts.

He deserves every ounce of hellfire that awaits him — and our judicial system should wake up from its long slumber and bring every atom of his empire to the ground. Give the victims Epstein’s wealth and then salt the earth he walked on.

This isn’t a time for niceties or newspaper investigation pieces. It’s beyond time for the judicial system to do its job and shred Epstein, his legacy, and anyone connected to him. Anything less will further degrade trust in institutions and bring into question why we even have the institutions we have if they can’t handle one of history’s worst monsters.

Burn. It. All. To. The. Ground.


Public faith in our institutions is at stake.


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Daniel Vaughan

Daniel Vaughan is a columnist for the Conservative Institute and lawyer in Nashville, Tennessee. He has degrees from Middle Tennessee State University and Regent University School of Law. His work can be found on the Conservative Institute's website, or you can receive his columns and free weekly newsletter at The Beltway Outsiders. Connect with him on Twitter at @dvaughanCI.