Source: Jeffrey Epstein ordered three couples in his entourage to get married
- An anonymous woman has sued the estate of Jeffrey Epstein, claiming that Epstein forced her into a fraudulent marriage in order to keep a foreign girlfriend in the country.
- Business Insider has identified at least one other, previously unreported, marriage between two women in Epstein's entourage.
- One is a U.S. citizen, the other is from Eastern Europe. They have since divorced.
- A source tells Business Insider that the couple married at Epstein's direction, and that there have been a total of three such marriages.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Early Tuesday morning, three women filed separate lawsuits against the estate of Jeffrey Epstein, whom federal prosecutors charged with sex trafficking just weeks before his apparent suicide on August 10. Their allegations, which include sexual assault and coercion, closely mirror those lodged by prior accusers.
But one plaintiff, who remains anonymous, leveled a novel accusation: That the wealthy financier, with the help of an unnamed attorney, forced her to enter a fraudulent marriage with another woman in his orbit.The plaintiff, identified in legal filings as "Katlyn Doe," described the second woman as a "a non-United States citizen and recruiter of females for Jeffrey Epstein," and said their marriage was designed to ensure the woman would continue to work for Epstein in the U.S. as part of "a complex system of individuals ... for the purpose of harming teenage girls through sexual exploitation, abuse and trafficking."
But these aren't the only allegations of a fraudulent marriage induced by Epstein: Business Insider has learned that at least two other women in Epstein's entourage were married to each other, and a source familiar with the situation says they were directed to get married by the sex offender. As with Katlyn Doe's accusations, one of these women was a non-citizen that Epstein may have wanted to maintain access to. The marriage has not been previously reported. The source said that Epstein orchestrated at least three such marriages.
Allegations that could change the trajectory of the investigation
The allegations could alter the trajectory of the Epstein investigation. Doe's claims suggest, after all, that Epstein and his associates conducted an international human trafficking operation as recently as 2014 - six years after he pleaded guilty to state charges of solicitation of a minor, and more than a decade after the alleged crimes on which his federal charges were based.
The marriage identified by Business Insider took place in 2013. One woman was a U.S. citizen, the other was from Eastern Europe. While it's unclear why exactly Epstein directed them to wed, a source with direct knowledge of the arrangement said both women were romantically involved with the multi-millionaire sex offender.
There are similarities between their marriage and the one described in Doe's complaint. Beyond their participants' connection to Epstein, both took place in 2013 and involved a citizen and a non-citizen. But other details, such as the age of the brides and the dates of their respective divorces, clearly show there were two different marriages, between two different pairs of women. What they all had in common was Epstein.
Both women have been photographed with Epstein or leaving his home
Business Insider is not naming the women because Epstein was accused of sex trafficking, and they may be victims. We are withholding significant details from this story in order to protect their identities. Both women are adults.Both women, who have since divorced, have public links to Epstein, including published photographs of them either together with the secretive financier or entering or leaving his five-story mansion on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
Multiple sources who knew them and a review of public records show that they did not present themselves outwardly as spouses.
Both were members of a coterie of attractive young women - many of them from Russia and Eastern Europe - who frequently accompanied Epstein and his friends to events and travelled widely on his fleet of private jets, according to a source familiar with the arrangement.
One of the women, an American, has introduced herself to people as a member Epstein's household staff but was in fact a girlfriend, according to the source. A different source recalled that Epstein once purchased this woman a car valued at more than $50,000. She has been captured by a tabloid photographer while entering and exiting Epstein's mansion.
Both women lived in a building owned by Epstein's brother
According to public records, the American has lived in a 16-story condominium on East 66th St. in Manhattan since the mid-2000s. The same address turns up repeatedly in records concerning Epstein and his circle of associates, including his attorney and the co-conspirators named in the infamous non-prosecution agreement that allowed Epstein to escape federal prosecution in 2008.
Epstein's brother, Mark Epstein, owns most of the units in the building through his real estate company. The building has been described in court records and published reports as a location where Jeffrey Epstein housed young women. (Mark Epstein has denied any knowledge of his brother's activities.)
According to New York City marriage records, the American was granted a marriage license in October 2013 to another woman in Epstein's orbit from Eastern Europe.
Like her ex-wife, the Eastern European has been photographed leaving and entering Epstein's mansion by tabloid newspapers. A separate set of paparazzi photos taken by a news agency in New York shows her and Epstein walking down the street together.She has a professional degree from a U.S. university and a professional license. The address on her license is the same address used by one of Epstein's companies.
An intensely private Eastern European
In conversations with Business Insider, her professional school classmates described her as an intensely private woman who rarely discussed her personal life with others. At the same time, her manner and appearance made her stand out in certain ways.
Three classmates described her as "Eastern European." According to the professional school's yearbook, she previously attended a college in Eastern Europe.
One former peer said she often wore expensive, branded clothing that many graduate students would struggle to afford. In colder months, she donned a white, fur-trimmed jacket that retails for around $900. One day, the same classmate said, she mentioned traveling back from Miami, without explaining why she was there or who she was with.
None of the classmates Business Insider contacted recalled any indication that she was married to a woman. However, most of them remembered hearing, through the campus grapevine, about her relationship with an older and much wealthier man. Three had hazy memories of seeing and discussing photos of her with the same man in a newspaper or web site. Shown a photo of Epstein, one said it was the same man they had seen photographed with the classmate.
It's unclear what came first: The rumors about her relationship with Epstein, or the photos her classmates saw in a newspaper or online. In any case, their recollections, combined with the photos, suggest that she was involved with Epstein when she attended and graduated from the professional school.
The women divorced just two months ago
The source familiar with the arrangement told Business Insider that the Eastern European is not a U.S. citizen, and that she came to the U.S. originally on a student visa. Business Insider was not able to independently verify her citizenship status. But according to public records, she was first issued a Social Security number sometime between 2009 and 2011, when she would have been in her late teens and early 20s. Most U.S. natural-born citizens are issued Social Security numbers at birth. As a full-time student from a foreign country, she would have been required to obtain a Social Security number if she wanted to earn income.
Court records show that the women were granted an uncontested petition for dissolution of marriage in June 2019, seven months after the Miami Herald published its blockbuster investigation into Epstein's crimes and weeks before his arrest by FBI agents in July.
"These were victims, too. They were psychologically manipulated."
Two sources who knew the American woman socially during the time public records indicate that she was married told Business Insider that she gave no outward indication of being in a committed relationship with a woman, and that she dated men at the time. There is no public evidence that the women ever lived together; though public records databases show that both are associated with the E. 66th St. building, they are linked to different units. Aside from their relationships to Jeffrey Epstein, the only public link between the two is a photo of the pair that the Eastern European posted to her Facebook account in 2015. The account has since been removed.Neither woman responded to repeated phone calls, emails, and text messages seeking comment. An associate of one of the women agreed to pass a message to her; the associate declined to comment other than to say Epstein exercised some measure of control over the women.
"These were victims, too," the associate said before hanging up the phone. "They were psychologically manipulated."
The FBI is seeking to interview the women
The source familiar with the arrangement said that FBI agents investigating Epstein are aware of the marriage, and are seeking to interview the two women.
Epstein had a long history of associating with young girls from Eastern Europe. He described his former girlfriend Nadia Marcinkova, who was accused by several of Epstein's underage victims of participating in three-way sex acts with them, as a "Yugoslavian sex slave" that he had "purchased from her family" as a teenager, according to a 2006 police report. A former bookkeeper for MC2, the modeling agency in which Epstein was an investor, said in a 2010 deposition that Marcinkova was one of many young girls that MC2 brought to the United States on model visas - paid for by Epstein - and housed in apartments on E. 66th St. Jean-Luc Brunel, MC2's founder and a former friend of Epstein's, has lived in an apartment in the building.
More recently, the New York Post quoted a visitor to Epstein's mansion in 2016 saying that the home was filled with young women and that "half of them are from the former Soviet Union." The newspaper linked Epstein to a Russian "procurer" named Peter Listerman, who has described himself as a "matchmaker" between wealthy clients and "gentle, romantic" women. Svetlana Pozhidaeva, a Russian former MC2 model whose women's empowerment nonprofit was funded by Epstein, has also been photographed leaving his mansion and is linked to the E. 66th St. apartment building.
When New York Times reporter James Stewart visitied Epstein's home in August 2018, he was greeted by "a young woman, her blond hair pulled back in a chignon, who greeted [him] with what sounded like an Eastern European accent."
Entering into a marriage for the purposes of evading immigration laws is a crime - one that is commonly enforced in the context of sex trafficking investigations. Last year, prosecutors in Minnesota convicted five people - and secured guilty pleas from 31 more - in a wide-ranging probe of a Thai sex-trafficking network that forced victims to enter into fraudulent marriages in order to gain residency. In May, the Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team - an interagency task force with members of the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Labor - convicted a New Jersey woman on charges of forced labor and marriage fraud over her enslavement of a Sri Lankan woman. In 2012, prosecutors convicted three Belarusian nationals of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. It is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Epstein's attorney Reid Weingarten did not return an email, sent prior to his client's suicide, seeking comment. A message left with the FBI's New York press office was not returned.
Do you have a story to share about Epstein? Contact this reporter via encrypted messaging app Signal at +1 (773) 919-3832 using a non-work phone, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Twitter DM at @johnjcook.With reporting by Gabrielle Bluestone and Angela Wang.