Julie K. Brown: The Jeffrey Epstein Story
The depths of the Jeffrey Epstein story may never have been known without the work of Florida investigative reporter Julie K. Brown. A reporter for the Miami Herald, Brown and her explosive reporting for the Herald helped bring Epstein to justice (before his death) while exposing the powerful people and broken system that protected him.
For many years, billionaire Jeffrey Epstein's penchant for teenage girls was an open secret in the high society of Palm Beach, Florida and Manhattan. Charged in 2008 with soliciting prostitution from minors, Epstein was treated with what critics called unheard-of leniency at the time. The media virtually ignored the failures of the criminal justice system, and Epstein's friends and business partners brushed the allegations aside. But when in 2017 the U.S. attorney who approved Epstein's plea deal, Alexander Acosta, was chosen by President Trump as labor secretary, Brown was compelled to ask questions that other journalists weren't.
Despite her editor's skepticism that she could add a new dimension to a known story, Brown determined that her goal would be to track down the victims themselves. Poring over thousands of redacted court documents, traveling across the country and chasing down information in difficult and sometimes dangerous circumstances, Brown tracked down dozens of Epstein's victims, now young women struggling to reclaim their lives after the trauma and shame they had endured.
Brown's resulting three-part series in the Miami Herald was one of the most explosive news stories of the decade, revealing how Epstein ran a global sex trafficking pyramid scheme with impunity for years, targeting vulnerable teens, often from fractured homes, and then turning them into recruiters. The outrage led to Epstein's arrest, the disappearance and eventual arrest of his closest accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell, and the resignation of Acosta. The financier's mysterious suicide in a New York City jail cell prompted wild speculation about the secrets he took to the grave—and whether his death was intentional or the result of foul play.
Brown's new book, Perversion of Justice, builds on her original award-winning series, showing the power of truth, the value of local journalism and the tenacity of one woman in the face of the deep-seated corruption of powerful men. Julie Brown joins us virtually to discuss her role in the Epstein story and what it means for the media and the country.
Brown photo by Eileen Soler.
Julie K. Brown
Investigative Reporter, Miami Herald; Author, Perversion of Justice: The Jeffrey Epstein Story; (Participating Virtually)
Board Member, Center for Investigative Reporting—Moderator