The U.S. Virgin Islands is home to some of the most gorgeous beaches in the world. Each year hundreds of cruise ships come in and out of its harbors, and tourists enjoy a plethora of activities under the Caribbean sun. One of the most frequently visited islands is the island of St. Thomas. Just to the southeast of the popular paradise lies the small island of Little St. James. Though little is heralded in its name, the island is home to some big problems.
In 1998, the 75-acre island of Little St. James was purchased for $7.95 million by an incredibly wealthy businessman by the name of Jeffrey Epstein. The island has a villa-style compound, library, cinema, boathouse, and several cabanas. It also has a large mansion and a unique structure that resembles a temple. Epstein was not only in the process of building new structures on the island; he was also the reason Little St. James was given a new name: Pedophile Island.
In 2008, Epstein plead guilty to a charge of prostitution in the state of Florida. He completed a 13-month jail sentence for the crime. In 2010, he registered as a sex offender in the Virgin Islands. However, registering as a sex offender did not keep Epstein from engaging in heinous criminal activity. For several years, Epstein used the island of Little St. James as a “hideaway” to rape and traffic dozens of women and girls. Some girls appeared to be as young as 11 or 12 years old. In 2016, Epstein purchased the Great St. James, an island nearby Little St. James, to prevent people from monitoring his activities on Little St. James and to prevent his survivors from escaping.
In 2018, Epstein was arrested on sex trafficking charges stemming from the trafficking of women and girls in New York and Florida between 2002 to 2005. He plead not guilty to the charges. In August 2019, he hung himself in a Manhattan jail while the charges were pending.
In January 2020, the U.S. Virgin Islands sued Epstein’s estate for the rape and trafficking of women and girls that occurred on Little St. James. The Complaint alleged that Epstein’s misconduct spanned from 2001 to 2018. The lawsuit seeks civil penalties and assets from Epstein’s $577.7 million estate, including the forfeiture of Little St. James and Great St. James.
The Virgin Island’s lawsuit, however, has complicated matters for some of Epstein’s survivors who are seeking civil remedies. Epstein’s estate has set up a fund to compensate survivors, but when the Virgin Islands’ lawsuit was commenced, it froze the estate’s assets. Thus, the litigation has caused delays in allowing the fund to move forward. While the estate believes a plan for putting the fund into effect should occur by June 15, many survivors are skeptical. The Virgin Islands have yet to confirm resolution of any matters that have been in dispute.
Because of Epstein’s suicide, his survivors missed the opportunity to see him brought to justice for criminal charges. They should not miss that opportunity for civil recourse. The qualified attorneys at Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis, and Overholtz represent survivors of sexual abuse. Please contact us to receive more information.