West Palm Beach, Fla.
Billionaire sex criminal settles: Jeffrey Epstein maintained for nearly a decade that attorney Bradley Edwards coaxed dozens of underage women to accuse him of sexual assault, but this week he abruptly settled a defamation suit brought by Edwards. Epstein, 65, a powerful hedge fund manager with extensive political ties, apologized to Edwards but not to his clients, who were slated to testify in a jury trial. Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 to procurement of minors for prostitution and was sentenced to 13 months in jail. Federal prosecutors found that up to 40 minors were sexually abused at Epstein’s mansion. According to Edwards, the victims were forced to recruit other underage girls, forming “a spider web of child molestation.” Epstein claims he believed the women were of age, and says they consented. He avoided federal prosecution in a deal that drew revived scrutiny last week after a Miami Herald investigation.