Epstein's harem of hell
Epstein’s harem of hell: Courtney was just 14, a skinny girl with braces on her teeth, when she was lured into the Palm Beach home of Prince Andrew’s paedophile friend and her horrifying story echoes those of many others
A powerful new book has put more pressure on Prince Andrew to speak to the FBI over allegations that his friend Jeffrey Epstein paid a teenage girl to have sex with him.
The Mail on Sunday has been summarising stories from the book, written by a lawyer who spent 11 years trying to bring the tycoon to justice. In our final instalment, we tell how Epstein set up a harem of underage sex slaves.
He young woman’s piercing green eyes stared resolutely ahead as she shook hands with her lawyer for the first time.
‘I’ve been trying to get someone to help me,’ she told him. ‘I’m co-operating with the FBI against Jeffrey Epstein.’ ‘Whoa!’ said the lawyer, a 32-year-old named Bradley Edwards, who had just set up his own firm in Hollywood, Florida.
In 2002, aged 14, Courtney was told by a friend, Lynn, that she could make $200 (£320) by giving a rich man who lived locally a massage. It was an easy decision to make. Pictured: Jeffrey Epstein with a young companion who is not Courtney
‘Let’s start at the beginning.’ It had only been an hour or so earlier that Edwards had received a phone call out of the blue.
Had he heard of a man named Jeffrey Epstein? He said he had not. The caller was a fellow lawyer, Jay Howell, who had founded America’s National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.
He was seeking legal advice for a 20-year-old woman who had been sexually assaulted by a powerful man in Palm Beach about six years earlier, in 2002. Edwards’s office was nearby – could he spare some time to talk to her?
The woman’s name was Courtney Wild. And so began for Brad Edwards a series of events that became, in his own words, his ‘personal life’s mission’: the pursuit of Jeffrey Epstein on behalf of the victims. ‘The more I learned,’ he says, ‘the more determined I was to bring his manipulation and abuse to an end.’
Epstein’s house (pictured) was in the billionaire district of Palm Beach Island, not far from Donald Trump’s famous Mara-Lago Club
It was a crusade that was to take over his life for more than a decade. Courtney’s story was harrowing. Describing her troubled childhood, she told Edwards: ‘My dad wasn’t around, and my mom had a problem with drugs.’
Yet she was determined to make a success of her life. By the age of 13, she was in the school band, a cheerleader, and doing well in her exams. But she had no money and few personal belongings.
Her only resource was her sheer willpower. In 2002, aged 14, Courtney was told by a friend, Lynn, that she could make $200 (£320) by giving a rich man who lived locally a massage. It was an easy decision to make.
Courtney took a cab with Lynn to the man’s home. Epstein’s house was in the billionaire district of Palm Beach Island, not far from Donald Trump’s famous Mara-Lago Club. Mesmerised, Courtney was escorted upstairs with Lynn to a bedroom where a massage table was set up. A skinny youngster with braces, Courtney was sexually inexperienced. And she was nervous.
She had never seen a house this big before, nor been in the presence of someone as powerful as the man she was about to massage. Not that she even knew what a massage was. All she knew was that an ‘old’ man wanted one. While standing beside the empty table with her friend, a greying man walked into the room wearing only a towel. ‘I’m Jeffrey,’ he said. ‘What is your name? Nice to meet you.’
He smiled warmly before extending his hand to shake Courtney’s. She felt her anxiety disappear. The man lay face down on the table. ‘Rub my back,’ he told Courtney. ‘Work from the middle of the back up and the tops of the legs down. You always want the blood to circulate away from the heart.’
He asked about her family, her life, her school, her boyfriends and her interests. For the first time in her life, an adult was listening to her. Epstein told her he was a brain surgeon, and that he, too, had come from humble beginnings.
He said that he had amassed enormous wealth, which made him friends with the most powerful people in the world. He could help her achieve her ambitions. Halfway through the massage, he told Lynn to leave the room.
What Courtney didn’t know was that her friend was also receiving money – a finder’s fee for bringing another girl to the mansion. Epstein rolled over on to his back and removed his towel. Courtney froze. He told her not to worry, that this was normal and natural. He assured her that she didn’t have to do anything she didn’t want to. He closed his eyes and told her to pinch his nipples.
Confused, Courtney complied. In an increasingly direct voice, Epstein kept telling her: ‘Harder, harder, harder!’ He then sexually pleasured himself. As soon as he had finished, he hopped up off the table, paid her $200 and left her to find her own way back downstairs. Wherever Courtney looked, there were photographs of fully or partially naked young girls. One seemed to be about four years old.
There was one female figure, however, who was older and appeared in many photographs, sometimes in naked and at other times with her clothes on. She also appeared with Epstein alongside famous people, including the Pope. Courtney later learned this was Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey’s long-time girlfriend.
On the way home, Lynn told Courtney that what had happened was completely normal. ‘This is what rich people do,’ she said. ‘They’re only trying to help a bunch of poor trailer-park kids like us who need a break in life.’ The next day, Courtney was asked if she wanted to ‘work’ again.
There was one female figure, however, who was older and appeared in many photographs, sometimes in naked and at other times with her clothes on. She also appeared with Epstein alongside famous people, including the Pope. Courtney later learned this was Ghislaine Maxwell (right), Jeffrey’s long-time girlfriend
In no time, she was being whisked by Epstein’s private chauffeur back to the mansion. This time Epstein appeared naked. ‘I like you,’ he said. ‘When you give me my massage, take your top off and take off your shorts, too. It’s a better experience for everyone. You’ll see.’ During the massage he reached up and placed his hand on her right breast. ‘Take off your bra. It will be fine,’ he told her.
What choice did she have? Courtney was alone with one of the most powerful brain surgeons in the world, being paid in cash for just one hour of her time. What was overwhelmingly clear to Edwards by this point as Courtney told him her story was Epstein’s manipulation.
The lawyer felt an increasing sense of fury as further details unfolded. Before long, Courtney explained that she was bringing her own friends to Epstein’s mansion. Often, she and Lynn approached girls at the mall, at school, in the park, at the beach, anywhere they could think of.
As Epstein became more familiar with the duo, he pushed the sexual boundaries further, as well as his demands for more girls. What had begun as a seemingly cordial request was now a command. Courtney was expected to bring girls. She was told that if she didn’t, she would disappoint Epstein.
This, she understood, was now a threat. But Courtney’s relationship with him was complex. The longer it went on, the more indebted she felt to him. She did not want to let down the man who had become her friend, father figure, employer and master, someone who always spoke to her politely. Epstein’s sexual appetite was extraordinary, she said.
Whenever in town, he would typically have three or four of these massages a day, each time with a separate teenager. At 17, Courtney was worried that she was becoming too old for him.
But one day he asked her to go to his house. On arrival there, he led her to his swimming pool, where several young, tall, thin girls were sunbathing naked. Despite all that she’d done in the last three years, she was shocked.
Upstairs in a bedroom, she saw a beautiful young model named Nadia. Epstein told Courtney he had purchased Nadia from her family in Yugoslavia. She was now part of his harem.
He instructed Nadia to kiss Courtney and continued to direct all sorts of sexual action between the girls before himself having sex with Nadia. By now, Courtney knew what she was doing was wrong – something she had not understood at first.
The powerful new book has put more pressure on Prince Andrew (pictured with Virginia Roberts in 2001) to speak to the FBI over allegations that his friend Jeffrey Epstein paid a teenage girl to have sex with him
But it was too late. Courtney’s story was one of many that would emerge over the following decade. A watching world would be horrified by accounts of underage girls being shuttled in Epstein’s private plane to lavish destinations around the world in pursuit of his depraved lifestyle.
There was his house in New York, one of the largest townhouses in Manhattan; his ranch in New Mexico, which he’d bought from the state governor; an apartment in Paris; and his own private island in the US Virgin Islands, Little Saint James, which Epstein referred to as Little Saint Jeff’s (but others called ‘Paedo Island’).
The world looked on in disbelief as the full extent of the physical and mental torture to which he subjected his victims was finally exposed. Epstein’s death in prison last year while awaiting trial on charges of trafficking underage girls denied Courtney the chance to tell this tragic and chilling story in court, and to see justice done properly.
But although Epstein is dead, the women’s stories should not die with him, says Edwards. Had it not been for some very courageous women, he says, there is little doubt Jeffrey Epstein would have continued to harm young girls on a ‘massive scale’ while globetrotting with his powerful friends.
‘I believe I owe it to the good people who risked their privacy and safety to hold Jeffrey Epstein accountable to share what really happened.’
Bradley J. Edwards, 2020
- By The Mail on Sunday, based on Relentless Pursuit: My Fight For The Victims Of Jeffrey Epstein, by Bradley J. Edwards, published by S&S at £20.
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