This is a developing story and may be updated.
Thousands of pages of documents related to convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein's trafficking of young girls were released Friday, opening the floodgates on one of the biggest scandals of 2019.
"Excellent," tweeted producer Andy Lassner. "Shine that light as bright as possible on all of it."
The documents (pdf) (pdf) (pdf), which were still being published at press time, detail years of abuse from Epstein and an alleged wide-ranging conspiracy spanning multiple countries and state, involving powerful people around the globe.
Friday's document release caps a week of news around Epstein, the reclusive money manager whose friendships with President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton, Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, England's Prince Andrew, and others have fueled interest in the case. Epstein is being held in New York City.
On Wednesday, L Brands CEO Les Wexner, whose company owns Victoria's Secret and other brands and who was long connected to Epstein, claimed that Epstein had misappropriated large sums of money from Wexner and that the two had not been close since 2007.
"We discovered that he had misappropriated vast sums of money from me and my family," Wexner wrote in a letter to his charitable Wexner Foundation Community. "This was, frankly, a tremendous shock, even though it clearly pales in comparison to the unthinkable allegations against him now."
The next day, a woman who claims Epstein raped her when she was 15 asked a Manhattan court to force Epstein to reveal the name of the woman who recruited her. The recruiter's identity is needed, lawyers for Jennifer Araoz argued, because Araoz wishes to include her in a suit against Epstein.
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The order came from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in July, as Courthouse News reporter Adam Klasfeld reported at the time. The ruling (pdf), written by Circuit Judge Jose Cabranes, determined that the release of the documents was in the public interest.
"We have long noted that the press plays a vital role in ensuring the public right of access and in enhancing 'the quality and safeguards the integrity of the fact-finding process,'" the July opinion reads. "When faithfully observing its best traditions, the print and electronic media 'contributes to public understanding of the rule of law' and 'validates [its] claim of functioning as surrogates for the public.'"
Documents are still being uploaded for public perusal.
But they're sure to have at least some people feeling nervous, as Klasfeld reported:
Epstein separately faces sex-trafficking charges that have heaped scrutiny on two U.S. presidents, Prince Andrew of England, and other titans from the legal, finance, scientific and business elite known to have been linked to him.
And, as Klasfeld noted on Twitter, today's dump isn't everything.
"What's been released today isn't the entire tranche that the Second Circuit ordered unsealed last month," said Klasfeld. "The majority of the unsealing will be performed by U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska on remand, but make no mistake, this is quite a flood today."