Justice is coming for Jeffrey Epstein’s victims
Published 9:04 am Friday, January 19, 2024
For years, we have known about financier Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking ring. We know the abuse spanned decades and harmed untold numbers of vulnerable, young girls. And we know a large network of high-profile, high-dollar predators participated in this horrific abuse.
But to date, only one person has ever faced justice for these crimes: Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s longtime associate who is serving a 20-year sentence for recruiting and grooming many of the victims. With the recent release of documents by a federal judge exposing part of Epstein’s potential client list, however, we are finally moving in the right direction to help bring accountability to the predators who participated in this sexual exploitation and justice to their victims.
The court order unsealed the names of more than 170 associates named in a lawsuit against Maxwell by one of Epstein’s alleged victims. While many of the people named in the documents are not accused of any crimes, many others are accused of wrongdoing or are potential witnesses of Epstein’s trafficking ring. The documents also revealed details about Epstein’s alleged abuse, including that he and his associates trafficked girls as young as 12 years old and would target them at nightclubs.
The release of this information is just the first step to uncovering the truth; the latest documents come from just one case involving one victim. There are countless others who were targeted, trafficked, and abused.
That’s why I have repeatedly requested a subpoena for the complete, unredacted Epstein flight logs and Ghislaine Maxwell’s unredacted “little black book” of contacts and addresses, along with all documents and records from the FBI regarding Epstein and Maxwell. The American people have the right to know who flew on Epstein’s plane, who witnessed these crimes, and who potentially participated in his international sex trafficking ring.
I’m grateful that all Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are united in supporting my efforts to subpoena these documents. And while Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) previously stonewalled my requests, I am encouraged that he has seemingly had a change of heart and expressed a willingness to work on a bipartisan basis to obtain records relevant to the Epstein case. In the weeks ahead, I will be urging a vote on my subpoena whenever possible at Judiciary Committee meetings until the innocent victims receive the justice they deserve.
Still, we know this issue goes far beyond Epstein and his associates. In America, a child is bought or sold for sexual exploitation on average every two minutes. Between 2018 and 2023, cartel revenues for human smuggling soared from $500 million to $13 billion. And globally, the Department of Homeland Security estimates that human traffickers make a staggering $150 billion in profits each year.
While much of this trafficking occurs at our Southern border, we know this issue impacts every single community in our country. Across Tennessee, I have heard from law enforcement officers, healthcare personnel, and school officials about the increasing prevalence of sex trafficking in our state. In fact, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, reports of sex trafficking of minors jumped from 66 in 2016 to more than 600 in 2021 – a nearly ten-fold increase. Through November of last year, there were nearly 700 reports of sex trafficking, spanning every single region in the state.
One thing should be clear: This isn’t a celebrity issue. This is about modern day slavery. And shedding light on these crimes – including by Epstein and his associates – can help bring an end to this widespread, pervasive abuse.
Still, there is so much more we can do to provide law enforcement with the tools they need to catch these predators.
The bipartisan “SAVE Girls” Act, which I introduced last year with Senator Klobuchar (D-Minn.), would provide states, local governments, and nonprofits with vital resources they need to train personnel, conduct rescues, and help save trafficking victims.
The SALONS Stories Act, which I introduced with Senator Duckworth (D-Ill.), would incentivize training for cosmetologists and beauticians so that they can spot signs of sexual abuse among their clients and get them the help they need. This initiative replicates a program in Tennessee, Shear Haven, that has helped countless girls and women.
And the REPORT Act, which I led with Senator Ossoff (D-Ga.) and was unanimously passed by the U.S. Senate last month, would equip the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and law enforcement with essential resources to crack down on child trafficking and online child sex abuse material.
I am pleased these crucial pieces of legislation are moving forward, and I am hopeful that with greater transparency – especially regarding the Epstein case – we can start to break apart these sex trafficking rings and ensure that these predators are put in jail where they belong.
(Marsha Blackburn represents Tennessee in the U.S. Senate)