Jan. 15 (UPI) -- The government of the U.S. Virgin Islands alleged in a lawsuit on Wednesday that the late Jeffrey Epstein sexually abused young girls on islands he owned.
Filed by Virgin Islands Attorney General Denise N. George, the lawsuit broadens the scope of alleged wrongdoing by Epstein, referring to crimes allegedly committed at his Virgin Islands properties from 2001 to 2018.
He previously was charged with sexually exploiting dozens of women and girls in New York and Florida prior to 2005. His lawyers later said that following his 2008 guilty plea to charges including payment to an underage girl for sexual services, he had been law-abiding.
Epstein hanged himself in August in New York City's Metropolitan Correctional Center while awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges. The circumstances surrounding his death are under investigation.
Epstein owned two islands, valued at $86 million, one named Little St. James, which he regarded as his private enclave. The lawsuit said girls ranging in age from 12 to 17 were "deceptively lured" and recruited "with money and promises of employment, career opportunities and school assistance" to the estate, where sexual acts of rape and abuse of minors" occurred. They were then forced "to recruit others to perform services and engage in sexual acts, a trafficking pyramid scheme."
The suit mentions an incident in which "a 15 year old victim was forced into sexual acts with Epstein and others and then attempted to escape by swimming off Little St. James Island. Epstein and others organized a search party that located her and kept her captive by, among other things, confiscating her passport."
It adds that airport personnel reported seeing Epstein arrive in the company of what appeared to be underage girls as late as 2018, and that in 2018 he refused to allow an investigator from the Virgin Islands' Department of Justice, routinely monitoring Epstein because of his status as a sex offender, onto the Little St. James property.
Prosecutors in New York have said their investigation continues, despite Epstein's death. The Virgin Islands lawsuit appears to be the first filed against Epstein in that jurisdiction, although over a dozen women have filed lawsuits against Epstein's estate.