Ask about Jeffrey Epstein on St. Thomas and rooms go quiet. Some individuals depart. Those who share tales converse in precisely audible tones.
The 66-year-old billionaire purchased Little St. James Island off this U.S. Caribbean territory greater than 20 years in the past and started to rework it — clearing the native vegetation, ringing the property with towering palm timber and planting two huge U.S. flags on both finish. When guides took scuba divers to spots close to the island, safety guards would stroll to the water’s edge.
It was off-putting to residents of St. Thomas — a lush tropical island east of Puerto Rico with winding roads by mountains dotted with dainty Danish colonial-era houses. Then, when Epstein pleaded responsible in a 2008 to soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution, his want for privateness began appearing extra sinister.
“Everybody called it ‘Pedophile Island,'” mentioned Kevin Goodrich, who’s from St. Thomas and operates boat charters. “It’s our dark corner.”
Many individuals who labored for Epstein advised The Associated Press this week that that they had signed lengthy non-disclosure agreements, and refused to speak. One former worker who declined to be recognized mentioned Epstein as soon as had 5 boats, together with a big ferry wherein he transported as much as 200 staff from St. Thomas to his island on daily basis for building work.
The man mentioned he noticed a handful of younger girls when he was on Epstein’s property however he believed they have been older than 18.
“When he was there, it was keep to yourself and do your thing,” the person recalled, including that Epstein paid effectively and would give away older equipment and surplus together with lumber to his staff.
Epstein constructed a stone mansion with cream-colored partitions and a vivid turquoise roof surrounded by a number of different constructions together with the maids’ quarters and an enormous, square-shaped white constructing on one finish of the island. Workers advised one another it was a music room fitted with a grand piano and acoustic partitions. Its gold dome flew off throughout the lethal 2017 hurricane season. Locals recalled seeing Epstein’s black helicopter flying forwards and backwards from the tiny worldwide airport in St. Thomas to his helipad on Little St. James Island, a roughly 75-acre retreat just a little over a mile (about 2 kilometers) southeast of St. Thomas.
Government paperwork and ledgers present that Little St. James Island was as soon as generally known as Mingo Cay. In April 1998, an organization called L.S.J. LLC purchased it for $7.95 million. Additional paperwork confirmed that Epstein is the only real member of L.S.J., along with his signature harking back to an infinity loop.
Epstein later purchased neighboring Great St. James Island, which as soon as was common with locals and vacationers for its important attraction, Christmas Cove, a spot the place you possibly can hang around and order pizza and have it delivered by way of boat.
“He wasn’t well received,” recalled Spencer Consolvo, a St. Thomas native who runs a vacationer store close to a big marina. “People think he’s too rich to be policed properly.”
According to public data obtained by the AP, the island was as soon as value $three million and owned by a lady who died in a chalet in Switzerland. The island had been divided into parcels and given to 3 individuals and was later bought to Epstein.
Federal authorities think about the smaller of the 2 islands to be Epstein’s main residence within the United States, a spot the place a minimum of one alleged sufferer mentioned in a court docket affidavit that she participated in an orgy, in addition to had intercourse with Epstein and different individuals. She mentioned she noticed former U.S. President Bill Clinton on the island, however that she by no means noticed him having intercourse with anybody. A Clinton spokesman issued a press release saying he by no means visited there.
A day after he pleaded not responsible in a New York courtroom to fees of sexually abusing dozens of underage women, there was scant motion on the Caribbean island. Hurricane shutters coated the home windows, locals hadn’t seen any lights at evening and a lone employee drove a vivid blue golf cart across the property.
At a close-by workplace that locals say Epstein owns in a seaside strip mall, a person in a T-shirt and sun shades on his head opened the door a crack, shook his head vehemently when requested about Epstein and locked the door. The agency, Southern Trust Company Inc., employed Cecile de Jongh, spouse of former Gov. John de Jongh, as its workplace supervisor, in line with data with the U.S. Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority.