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The Epstein scandal exposes the dark attraction of money and power in America

Smart, sane, and famous men – with everything to lose – found themselves drawn to the Epstein flame, writes Jon Sopel. Four years after the billionaire took his own life, many are still sleeping uneasily, terrified of what is still to come out

Thursday 04 January 2024 21:00 GMT
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‘Maybe they thought Epstein was untouchable, immutable – and that the heat shield around him would afford them a Teflon non-stick coating too’
‘Maybe they thought Epstein was untouchable, immutable – and that the heat shield around him would afford them a Teflon non-stick coating too’ (New York State Sex Offender Registry)

Orgies with underage girls. A wealthy American financier. Stephen Hawking. An offer of payments to the youngsters concerned to deny any such orgy took place. I’m not sure what is more remarkable: the salaciousness or the improbability of it all. It is head-spinning.

But then we’ve grown used to some of it. The sleaziness of Epstein; the involvement of Ghislaine Maxwell in procuring extremely young women to act as the masseuses and providers of sexual services to a host of older men. There’s the private island befitting a Bond villain, the private jets put at your disposal; you can almost imagine the noxious, acrid smell of sweat, sex, stale cigar smoke – and power – mashed together in a ghastly fusion.

The movie, when it comes – and it surely will – will have to be X certificate. Like the title of the Ian Dury song, it is “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll” to the nth degree. There is plenty to dwell on there. But more interesting is what it says about power in the US, and the magnetic, irresistible attraction of money. Smart, sane, famous, eminent men – with everything to lose – found themselves drawn feebly, or perhaps willingly, like moths to the Epstein flame.

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