Where Are The Men Who Should Be Held to Account?
Jeffrey Epstein may be dead, but the power structure that enabled him endures—and the 2022 Cannes Film Festival is Exhibit A that his activities continue without him
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Ghislaine Maxwell boarding her father's yacht "The Lady Ghislaine” in 1991. (Photo by Mathieu Polak/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)
Ghislaine Maxwell is set to learn her fate this morning. If everything goes according to plan (see my coverage from yesterday about why it might not), she will be sentenced on three of the counts on which she was found guilty: sex trafficking, conspiracy, and transportation of a minor with the intent to engage in illegal sexual activity. The government has asked for a sentence of no less than 30 years. If Judge Nathan chooses to grant that, it will mean Maxwell will likely spend the rest of her natural life in jail.
Once sentenced, Maxwell will be the only person formally held to account for the crimes perpetuated—yes by her, but also by Jeffrey Epstein.
Maxwell has been found guilty of committing these crimes, and she should undoubtedly pay the price for them. But—and it’s a “but” even the lawyers of some of her victims have stressed—she did not act alone. Even the charges themselves imply the involvement of other people—minors aren’t sex trafficked to no one. Trafficking requires another person’s involvement: the person to whom the minor is trafficked.
Throughout the trial this past winter, the names of many rich and powerful men made cameos in the courtroom—the men who flew on Epstein’s planes, the men who paid Epstein handsomely for his mysterious financial wizardry—but those men largely blurred into the background. What were the men doing on Epstein’s plane and on Epstein’s island? What does Darren Indyke, Epstein’s long-time lawyer, know about his client’s activities? Will we ever find out? And if not, why not? What are the flaws in our legal system than enable such silence? We should push for those answers, that accountability.
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