(PARIS) — A pair of French government officials are calling for an investigation of Jeffrey Epstein’s activities in France, citing the “many unanswered questions” in the wake of Epstein’s suicide in jail over the weekend.
French Secretary of State for Equality between men and women Marlène Schiappa and Secretary of State for the ministry of solidarity and health Adrien Taquet released a joint statement on Monday asking the French authorities to open their own investigation of Epstein.
“The US investigation has highlighted links with France,” Schiappa and Taquet said in a statement. “It thus seems to us fundamental for the victims that an investigation be opened in France so that all is brought to light.”
In response to questions from ABC News, a spokesperson for the Paris prosecutor’s office said that request was under careful consideration.
“The elements received at the Paris prosecutor’s office are being analyzed and cross-referenced,” the spokesperson told ABC News. “The first audits are currently underway to determine whether an investigation should be opened in France”.
Epstein, a multimillionaire financier who was indicted in New York on sex trafficking charges in July, maintained a number of residences around the world, including one at 22 Avenue Foch in the 16th arrondissement of Paris.
Property records obtained by ABC News show that he purchased multiple properties within that building, through a real estate entity called JEP, for about 1.5 million euros in 2002 and added an additional property in 2004 for just 20 euros.
Flight logs reviewed by ABC News show that Epstein made frequent trips to France over the last two decades. Authorities noted that Epstein had been returning from Paris when he was taken into custody at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey.
And Virginia Roberts Giuffre, one of Epstein’s accusers, claims to have accompanied Epstein and his alleged co-conspirator Ghislaine Maxwell on a trip to Paris in 2001 when she was just a teenager.
According court documents related to a since-settled defamation lawsuit filed by Giuffre against Maxwell that were unsealed on Friday, Giuffre has alleged that she was “forced” to have sex with several people, including French model scout Jean-Luc Brunel, an allegation Brunel has denied, and in a deposition, Giuffre stated that she believed it was in France that Maxwell “sent [her] to have sex with the owner of a large hotel chain.”
Maxwell has not been charged, and in court documents, Maxwell has denied Giuffre’s allegations and claims that Giuffre has not produced any evidence to support them.
Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York alleged that from about 2002 to 2005, Epstein “sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls at his homes in Manhattan, New York, and Palm Beach, Florida, among other locations,” using cash payments to recruit a “vast network of underage victims,” some of whom were as young as 14 years old.
More than a decade ago, Epstein served just 13 months of an 18-month sentence in county jail after reaching a much-criticized plea deal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami, then led by Alexander Acosta, who recently resigned as President Donald Trump’s labor secretary.
The deal, which is currently under review by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, not only allowed Epstein to plead guilty to two state charges and avoid federal charges for an allegedly broad pattern of sexual misconduct, but also provided him and any alleged co-conspirators with immunity from further federal prosecution in the Southern District of Florida.
Epstein, who had pleaded not guilty to the charges for which he faced up to 45 years imprisonment, apparently hanged himself in his cell at Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan early Saturday morning, angering many of his alleged victims who felt they had once again been robbed of an opportunity to hold him accountable for his conduct.
“I am extremely mad and hurt thinking he once again thought he was above us and took the easy way out … I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that’s really true,” Jena-Lisa Jones, 30, an alleged victim of Epstein, said in a statement. “God will have his judgement now.”
Jennifer Araoz, 32, who claimed that Epstein raped her when she was 15, called on authorities to “pursue and prosecute his accomplices and enablers.”
“I am angry Jeffrey Epstein won’t have to face his survivors of his abuse in court,” Araoz said. “We have to live with the scars of his actions for the rest of our lives, while he will never face the consequences of the crimes he committed the pain and trauma he caused so many people.”
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