Jeffrey Epstein, a wealthy financier with connections to big-name politicians and Hollywood celebrities and charged with child sex trafficking was pronounced dead at a New York hospital after he was discovered hanging in his jail cell, despite being recently placed on suicide watch. Epstein’s network included many of the world’s elite figures and his case drew a lot of attention as he’s had past connections to both President Bill Clinton and President Donald Trump.
While he gets the most attention for his ties to politicians, he also had a big connection to Hollywood. In the face of the #MeToo movement and pedophilia scandals like repeated accusations again Bryan Singer, Epstein’s trial could have been poised to put some Hollywood predators on notice. With his death, it’s not yet clear how the investigation will continue.
Despite his 2008 conviction, The Hollywood Reporter says Epstein was allowed to move freely in multiple Hollywood circles and had an interest in the business, how it worked, and who the power players were. In a 2002 profile in New York Mag, Epstein said “I invest in people—be it politics or science. It’s what I do,” suggesting he was interested in extending his influence to any new circle he could.
After serving his mild 13-month house arrest for felony charges of soliciting prostitution from a minor (a plea deal dialed down from much more expansive charges of sex trafficking of minors), Peggy Siegal, a New York socialite known for her ability to network influential people, is said to have put together a dinner in honor of Prince Andrew, a close friend of his. The 15-20 guests in attendance reportedly included Charlie Rose, Woody Allen, Chelsea Handler, and George Stephanopoulos, and Katie Couric.
He was also present at other major Hollywood events, usually thanks to Siegal, such as the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice premiere in 2016 and the Gotham Awards in 2017, even during a time when major industry figures like Harvey Weinstein were being taken down by sexual assault accusations of their own.
Outside of his Hollywood socializing, Epstein infamously has a “little black book” of personal connections containing the names and contact information for numerous high powered figures in the government and other industries. In the book, originally published by Gawker after it was revealed in court documents, there are a number of well known Hollywood A-listers such as Ralph Fiennes, Courtney Love, Dustin Hoffman, Jimmy Buffet, Alec Baldwin, David Blaine, Phil Collins, Richard Plepler, Chris Tucker, Michael Ovitz, and Kevin Spacey.
Given, simply having one’s name in Epstein’s little black book is hardly enough to condemn anyone, but with his personal associations including celebrities with reputations tainted by sexual assault accusations like Charlie Rose, Woody Allen, Kevin Spacey, and Harvey Weinstein, he’s certainly not a person most people would want to identify themselves with, especially now.
It’s not clear how the story will continue to unfold now that Epstein himself is dead, but according to the Daily Beast, prosecutors indicated his trial would include a million pages of evidence acquired from documents and devices seized from Epstein’s Manhattan mansion. Whether or not those million pages contain damning evidence against Hollywood elites or if they are even are still relevant now that Epstein can no longer be tried remains to be seen.
MORE: New Survey Says 94% of Women in Hollywood Have Experienced Sexual Misconduct
Stephen M. Colbert