Netflix doc ‘Filthy Rich’ explores “sexual pyramid scheme” concocted by pedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein
The Jeffrey Epstein story has all the trappings of a salacious news story: power, wealth, sex, abuse, celebrity, and corruption. But even though we know most of the details of Epstein’s fall from grace, culminating in his 2019 prison suicide under mysterious circumstances, we know relatively little about the man himself. A new Netflix limited series, Filthy Rich, attempts to shed light on the inner workings of the disgraced financier while also trying to give voice to his many victims.
Directed by filmmaker Lisa Bryant, Filthy Rich zigzags through time (think The Last Dance) to present the story of Epstein’s rise to power on Wall Street and the systems in place that allowed him to abuse dozens of young women for decades without attracting much notice. Below, some of the most shocking and devastating allegations from Filthy Rich.
1) Epstein relied on a “sexual pyramid scheme” to source girls as young as 14.
The series relies on accounts from many survivors of Epstein’s abuse, including those who were hired to give him massages at his Palm Beach mansion. One of his victims, Haley Robson, describes being recruited by another girl when she was 16 to give Epstein a massage for $200. After she rebuffed his advances, she says, he offered her money to recruit new girls to come to his home. All told, she says she recruited about 24 young girls.
Filthy Rich plays audio from police interrogating Robson about her role in procuring new victims for Epstein. “They treated me like I was his right-hand man, but what about the girl who recruited me? What happened to her? What about the girl who recruited the girl who recruited me?” she says. “I feel like I’ve been putting the blame on myself for so long, but I shouldn’t feel guilty about it because I was 16 and he’s the adult.
2) From the very beginning, Epstein and his associate Ghislaine Maxwell used intimidation tactics to silence accusers.
Among the first women to come out against Epstein were sisters Maria and Annie Farmer, who allege that they were both abused by Epstein and Maxwell in 1996. In Filthy Rich, the women say they took their allegations to the NYPD and the FBI, only for them to get nowhere; they also claim that they came forward to Vanity Fair journalist Vicky Ford with their allegations in 2003, only to be cut from the story at the last minute. (Maxwell has denied all allegations against her.)
Ward implies that the allegations were cut from the final story due to pressure from Epstein, as well as ominous threats such as a severed cat’s head being left on then-editor-in-chief Graydon Carter’s stoop. (In a statement to the film’s producers, Carter said: “Ms. Ward’s reporting on this aspect of her story came in as we were going to press and simply did not meet our legal threshold.”)
Maria Farmer also says that for years after she came forward with her allegations against Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell called her to threaten her. “She told me I needed to watch my back, that ‘I know you like to go running on the West Side Highway, and that’s not going to be a safe place for you anymore, because there are a lot of ways to die on the West Side Highway,'” Farmer recalls. These calls continued for years, prompting her to go into hiding in the North Carolina hills and change her name.
3) There’s new corroboration about Prince Andrew’s alleged involvement.
One of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, has long maintained that she was sexually abused by Epstein compatriot Prince Andrew in London in 2001. Giuffre recounts the incident in Filthy Rich, stating that Epstein’s associate and alleged procurer Ghislaine Maxwell told her, “you’re going to have to do for [Prince Andrew] what you do for Jeffrey” prior to the abuse.
Filthy Rich also features an interview with former Epstein employee Steve Scully, who in part corroborates Giuffre’s account. “It was probably around 2004 that I saw Prince Andrew,” Scully says. “He was at the pool. He was with, at that time, an unknown girl to me. She was young. She didn’t have any top on. They were engaged in foreplay. He was grabbing her and grinding against her.” Scully says he later identified the young woman as Giuffre after seeing a photo of her. Buckingham Palace and Prince Andrew have long denied the allegations.
4) There’s also new information about Bill Clinton.
Although Clinton’s team has since downplayed the association, Epstein and Clinton had a working relationship prior to Eptstein’s arrest in 2005, with flight logs showing Clinton traveling on Epstein’s private plane a total of 26 times. In an interview, Scully, who worked for Epstein from 1999 to 2005, alleges that he saw Clinton at Epstein’s private island, Little St. James, also known as “Pedophile Island.”
“I saw Bill Clinton sitting with Jeffrey on the living-room porch area, which was Jeffrey’s favorite spot,” Scully said. “I saw no other guests there at that time at all. I just thought, ‘Hey, wow, Jeffrey’s sitting with Bill Clinton.’” Giuffre also says she saw Clinton there, though she never saw him do anything improper. In a statement, a spokesperson for Clinton has said, “This was a lie the first time it was told, and it isn’t true today, no matter how many times it’s repeated.”
5) In footage from a 2016 deposition, Epstein is glib, even cocky, about the allegations against him.
One of the most chilling moments of Filthy Rich is seeing a cool-headed Epstein rebuff countless questions from law enforcement officials during a 2016 deposition, asserting his constitutional rights when asked direct questions about his sexual abuse of young girls. “I’d like to answer that question,” he chirps in his Brooklyn-inflected accent. “But today I’m gonna have to assert my Sixth Amendment rights, my Fifth Amendment rights.”
“Is it true that you forced Virgina Roberts to have sex with numerous friends of yours?” an official asks.
“Are you kidding?,” he shoots back. Watching footage from the deposition, it’s easy to see how confident and assertive Epstein is, and how that may have shielded him from the horrific allegations of abuse for so long.
6) There’s new fodder for Epstein conspiracy theorists.
Following Epstein’s suicide by hanging last summer, many people on social media from all over the political spectrum traded conspiracy theories alleging that Epstein had not taken his own life, but was murdered by allies of one of his powerful friends. The series does not take a definitive stance on this issue either way, but it does quote forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht (an associate of Dr. Michael Baden, hired by Epstein’s brother to conduct an investigation into his death) saying there is “no evidence at all” that Epstein had jumped or leaped from his bunk. Wecht points out Epstein had three fractures: the horn on the hyoid bone, and on the left and right sides of the thyroid cartilage. “You do not get those three fractures with a suicidal hanging of someone leaning forward,” he says, adding he’s never seen such fractures in his history of doing autopsies.
7) Epstein’s victims may never see complete justice.
Following Epstein’s death, many wondered whether those seeking justice against him would ever get their day in court and financial compensation for his actions. Filthy Rich casts sad doubt on this prospect, pointing out that two days before his death, he transferred the entirety of his $577 million estate to the US Virgin Islands, making it all the more difficult for his victims to seek restitution. “In my view, it sort of underscored his evilness, his venality, that he basically showed no remorse,” Fox Business correspondent Charlie Gasparino says in the film. “He didn’t think he did anything wrong. It was a fuck you to the victims.”