Tucked in the drawer of Jeffrey Epstein’s bedroom desk, near a massage table and a wooden armoire filled with sex toys, was a teenage girl’s Royal Palm Beach High School transcript.
She was 16 years old when Epstein lured her to his Palm Beach home set at the end of a dead-end street behind a wall of hedges.
And she’s one of at least 15 girls from Royal Palm Beach High School who Epstein sexually exploited in that bedroom 15 years ago, police reports reveal.
Epstein, a multimillionaire financier then in his 50s, lured a procession of girls as young as 14 to his home to perform nude massages for money, police and court records say. The massages often ended with Epstein groping or sexually assaulting the girls.
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Many of Jeffrey Epstein’s victims attended Palm Beach County schools
Epstein’s victims attended several Palm Beach County schools, including Lake Worth Middle and Palm Beach Gardens High.
But Royal Palm Beach High, with about 3,000 students, many from the county’s rural reaches, was ground zero.
Evidence suggests Epstein knew his victims were school girls and the signs didn’t escape Royal Palm Beach High administrators. The girls endured teasing and classmates called them “prostitutes.” After two girls fought, an administrator found one of them had $300 in her purse.
Aside from the student transcript found in Epstein’s desk in 2005, police collected more evidence and witness statements that suggest Epstein knew his victims were still school children:
He scrawled a note on Jeffrey E. Epstein-branded stationery instructing one of his employees to deliver a dozen roses to a girl who performed in a Royal Palm Beach High play. Police found the note in his trash.
One 16-year-old girl described to detectives giving Epstein a massage while she was topless. He asked her about herself and she told him she was a student at Royal Palm High. He then asked her which was her favorite sexual position, she told police.
Another girl, who met Epstein at age 16, said Epstein reviewed her college applications and SAT scores and promised to help her get into her dream school, New York University.
Though Palm Beach detectives uncovered these details in 2005, the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office and U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami, then headed by Alexander Acosta, cut Epstein a plea deal that landed him in jail for 13 months on two charges of soliciting prostitution.
This month, a decade after his release from a Palm Beach County jail, federal agents in New York arrested Epstein, 66, on charges of sex trafficking minors. The move came eight months after a Miami Herald investigation zeroed in on Acosta’s role in Epstein’s plea deal and let victims tell their stories publicly for the first time.
Epstein preyed on dozens of girls, at least 32 identified at the time by police but about 80 identified in 2018 by the Herald.
“These girls had never even been to Palm Beach island,” said Adam Horowitz, an attorney who represented Epstein victims in eight civil lawsuits filed against the multimillionaire.
“Some of them were living in trailer parks. This was a whole new world to them.”
For Epstein: ‘The younger the better’
Some of the girls told Epstein they were uncomfortable with being touched during massages, so he asked them to bring friends instead, police reports and court records reveal.
He paid girls about the same amount, around $200, to recruit a friend as he paid the girls who stripped down and performed massages, court records show.
Royal Palm Beach High was a target by coincidence.
“One of Epstein’s recruiters managed to infiltrate that circle,” Horowitz said.
The “recruiter” approached a 17-year-old Royal Palm Beach High School student in 2003 at a resort in Riviera Beach with an offer to make $200 for an hour to give a massage, she told police two years later.
The teen went to Epstein’s seven-bedroom home on the Intracoastal Waterway, where an assistant led her up a staircase lined with pictures of naked young girls and into Epstein’s bedroom, police say.
In keeping with descriptions to police from many Epstein victims, the teen found Epstein wearing only a towel, which he later removed, before lying on a massage table.
Epstein tried to grope her, but she resisted. She told him she didn’t want to be touched, she told detectives.
So Epstein asked her to bring friends to his home for cash instead. “The younger the better,” Epstein said, according to her police statement.
Going into her senior year at Royal Palm Beach High, the girl became a conduit to the school, recruiting at least eight other girls she’d met on campus, court depositions and police testimonies reveal.
And those girls recruited more girls.
Name-calling and a fight
One Royal Palm Beach High student told detectives in 2005 that she targeted promiscuous teens on campus. Another said she brought a friend on the verge of homelessness and strapped for cash.
School administrators knew something unusual was happening, police reports show.
Students teased the Epstein clique as “prostitutes” or “sugar babies,” a term for young women who seek relationships with wealthy, older men, The Post learned from court depositions and former students.
The tension came to the administration’s attention in February 2005, when a 14-year-old freshman, the first of Epstein’s victims to speak to police, got into a fight on campus with a girl who called her a “prostitute,” police said.
But the school kept no disciplinary record of the fight and didn’t report anything, police learned in 2005.
At the time, it appeared the girls were making money doing something nefarious, one former administrator, then-Assistant Principal Carolyn Brown, said in a brief interview this month.
It was an “open secret,” Brown said, stopping short of saying whether school administrators knew the girls were paid for sexual favors.
Brown was subpoenaed to testify in the 2005 criminal case against Epstein after she found $300 in the 14-year-old’s purse on campus shortly after the fight, court records reveal.
Administrators considered and then dismissed the idea that it might be drug money, detectives wrote in a 2005 report.
Brown, who is retired, never spoke to prosecutors. Soon after her subpoena, federal prosecutors struck Epstein’s plea deal calling for 18 months in county jail, registration as a sex offender and payments to victims.
It wasn’t clear if the principal at the time, Sheila Henry, knew that more than a dozen students were involved with Epstein. Henry wasn’t mentioned in police reports and could not be reached for comment.
But two former students reached by The Post, who asked to stay anonymous, said students gossiped that some girls had rich, older boyfriends who bought them expensive gifts. Six other students didn’t recall any such talk.
None of the girls knew then what the public knows now: That a Palm Beach millionaire tapped a local high school to prey on girls for his sexual gratification.
“Knowing what we know now,” said Brown, the former assistant principal, “it’s so sad what happened to those girls.”
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Jeffrey Epstein: Royal Palm High students lured to Palm Beach home