Recent years have seen a rise in the number of cases of horrendous sexual crimes perpetrated by the super-rich and powerful. In reality, there is no doubt that the frequency of these offences has always been high; it is the reporting of them that has risen. Many of these scandals are historic, involving horrific crimes such as the sexual abuse of children.
On 10th August, billionaire US financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his Manhatten prison cell, where he was doing time for charges of conspiracy and the sex trafficking of women - including girls under 18-years-old.
His death has been officially attributed to suicide, although conspiracy theories are raging on the internet that Epstein was in fact murdered. And it is no surprise why. Given his dodgy connections and web of murky scandals involving other high-profile figures, including rumoured links to the British Monarchy, there are many amongst the capitalist establishment who will no doubt have breathed a sigh of relief at the news of Epstein’s death.
Not only was Epstein once a high-flyer in the finance industry - he also had many wealthy and famous friends, including none other than Donald Trump. The earliest allegations of Epstein’s sexual abuse of children date back to 2002, seventeen years ago. The sordid timeline of events leading up to the financier’s death reads as follows:
2002: The earliest allegations of abuse covered in the 2019 case take place at his Palm Beach Mansion.
October 2002: Donald Trump tells New York magazine he has known Epstein for 15 years, and that he is a "terrific guy....it is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side".
2005: One of Epstein's alleged victims, aged 14, reports him to the police in Palm Beach - triggering the first police investigation.
May 2006: Epstein is charged with unlawful sex acts with a minor. Later in 2006, the case is referred to the FBI.
2007: A plea deal is struck with Alex Acosta, the US attorney in Florida, so that instead of facing federal sex-trafficking charges, Epstein just pleads guilty to a lesser sentence.
June 2008: Epstein is sentenced to 13 months in prison in a private wing of a county jail. He is also allowed to leave the prison (officially ‘for work’) for up to 12 hours a day, six days a week.
April 2017: Alex Acosta is appointed Labour Secretary by now-President Donald Trump.
July 2019: Epstein is arrested on new sex-trafficking charges, which he denies. Alex Acosta resigns due to the media storm, after the whole history of the case is reported on extensively.
Reading this series of events, it is impossible not to feel absolutely disgusted at the plain and obvious abuses of power going on at each and every stage. To receive only 13 months in prison - able to leave for half the day, six days a week - for the sexual abuse of a child, is shocking when compared to the sentences that are placed on those from working class communities for relatively minor crimes. The average prison sentence in the US for selling small quantities of cannabis, for example, is just over two years.
What’s more, following his year of ‘prison’, Epstein went on to enjoy a further decade of living his degenerate billionaire lifestyle, before his past caught up with him for the last time. Epstein maintained his properties and his assets after his conviction, and maintained his social position within elite circles.
There are more and more questions after Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his jail cell following an apparent suicide. pic.twitter.com/T9oCSS3bge— HuffPost (@HuffPost) August 12, 2019
Acting with impunity
A decade ago, these stories of disgusting sexual crimes from the rich and famous would have shocked us to the core. Now, while the crimes are no less horrendous, we have almost come to expect this kind of behaviour from the super-wealthy - as well as this kind of blatant hypocrisy and lack of fairness from the criminal justice system.
Why is this the case? The vast majority of ordinary people are not sexual predators, paedophiles, and rapists. Why are these disgusting criminals so over-represented in the upper echelons of society? Why does the legal system allow these monsters to walk away effectively scott-free, whilst disproportionately punishing the poor?
The answer is that the dog-eat-dog capitalist system rewards the most callous, the most selfish, the most cut-throat individuals. It is no surprise that the worst of the wealthy are able to secure these positions of power for themselves. Honesty, fairness, and kindness are not the traits required to send a person to the top of Wall Street, Washington, or Hollywood. Instead, depraved figures like Epstein are the perfect embodiment of this cold, competitive, corrupt system.
Not only that, but once in these positions of power, the super-rich believe that they can act with impunity - because they know that the laws of society will bend to their wealth and their wishes. As the old saying goes: the law is like a spider’s web - the small and vulnerable get caught, but the powerful rip right through it.
Rotten to the core
Under capitalism, the entire criminal justice system - from the police, to the courts, to the prisons - is an arm of the state; a tool used by the ruling class to serve their own interests. And the same class of people that make the laws believe that they can personally ignore and disregard them.
There can be no genuine justice or democracy under capitalism. Only a fundamental transformation of society - doing away with the rotten ruling class that acts out its whims without consequence - can ultimately prevent this systematic abuse of power that is becoming more and more visible to us every day.