New York, United States: A New York judge began to unseal Wednesday the identities of people linked in court documents to Jeffrey Epstein, the US financier who killed himself in 2019 as he awaited trial for sex crimes.
The initial tranche includes 40 previously undisclosed documents with almost 1,000 pages of depositions and statements, with the final library of documents expected to name prominent individuals.
Those named will include a host of Epstein associates previously identified as John or Jane Does in a lawsuit brought against Epstein’s former mistress, Ghislaine Maxwell. It carries no allegation of complicity in Epstein’s crimes.
Prominent figures are expected to be named, alongside individuals who have previously discussed their associations with Epstein in media interviews which were linked to in the order requiring the disclosure of their names.
The disclosure is part of a defamation proceeding between Epstein’s former mistress, Ghislaine Maxwell, sentenced in 2022 to 20 years in prison, and a plaintiff against the duo, Virginia Giuffre.
Last month a judge listed in a 50-page document some 180 cases — under pseudonyms — ordering that their identities be made public within 14 days of the order, the first days of January.
Some individuals have objected to the disclosure of their identities in the case.
Lawyers for one individual, “Doe 107”, wrote to the judge in the case arguing they could face victimization in their home country, and requested time to submit grounds for their name to remain sealed.
Accomplices in sex crimes
According to British media, Giuffre’s defamation claim against Maxwell, 62, dates back to 2016 and was settled the following year. But the Miami Herald then took legal action to access the file and investigate the Epstein network.
A number of documents in the case were made public in 2019, days before Epstein hanged himself in prison while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
Maxwell and Epstein were a couple in the early 1990s before becoming professional collaborators and accomplices in sex crimes for almost three decades.
Epstein, a financier with a powerful network in the United States and abroad, was himself accused of raping young girls, but his suicide by hanging in a New York prison in August 2019 halted his prosecution.
Fabricated lists and doctored photos of Epstein have circulated in conspiratorial internet circles for years, fueling speculation about the financier’s potential associates.
The anticipated release of names from court documents reignited that frenzy.
Comedian Jimmy Kimmel threatened Aaron Rodgers with legal action after the American football star suggested the late night host could be on the list.
It was a baseless allegation echoed across platforms such as X, where numerous posts also drew actor Tom Hanks into the fold.