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Author David Rosen asks whether justice will prevail in the insidious web of power that protects pedophillic predators who sexualy prey on young girls. Will Epstein’s prosecution uncover the intricate relations of the powerful that include Trump, Clinton, and others?

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MARC STEINER Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Marc Steiner. Good to have you all with us.

The Jeffrey Epstein story goes to the heart of our society, a bad part of the heart of our society. It’s the politics and the power that exists in this country. It’s about the power of capital and the interplay of those powerful people. It appears to be about the protection of one of their own— involving Trump maybe, Clinton, Kevin Spacey, others— with the weight of this moment falling on Secretary of Labor Acosta who was once prosecuting attorney who chose not to prosecute Epstein, and to not protect the underage girls who were his victims. Surrounding it is the critically important story of the sexual exploitation of children, the power of patriarchy, and how twisted human sexuality can be. It’s also about race and class in our criminal justice system where Epstein—If Epstein’s name was Eric Garner, he would be behind bars for a long time already, if allowed to live at all.

Our guest is David Rosen, who’s a writer and business development consultant. For the last decade, he’s written extensively about sex, politics, and American life. His most recent book is [Sin, Sex & Subversion: How What was Taboo in 1950s New York Became America’s New Normal]. And he wrote “The Epstein Affair: Take #2” for CounterPunch and joins us this moment. And welcome. Good to have you with us here on The Real News.

DAVID ROSEN Sure. Thank you very much for having me. I appreciate the opportunity.

MARC STEINER I almost don’t know where to begin. There was a conversation I had just before we went on the air where someone asked about the prevalence of this kind of behavior. This is a larger part of the question that can come from either party of people in power, period. What Epstein is doing, I think, A, we’re probably just seeing the tip of the iceberg with the Epstein case, but also, it’s emblematic of something much deeper and symptomatic of a much larger problem that we face with power, sex, and politics in our country.

DAVID ROSEN We do and it’s the legacy of patriarchy and the abuse by which men could inflict themselves on women, and particularly young women. And that’s the sad story that, you know, the #MeToo movement has done a great deal to expose it. Many women, the count that I have about 16 or 17 women, have come out and accused Trump of sexual abuse.


DAVID ROSEN There are any number of stories as to Clinton’s, sort of, extramarital affairs. So this is about patriarchy and the power that money and wealth and social standing allows these men to essentially get away with what they want to. You had mentioned part of what I think is the equation that’s going on here. What’s going to be very interesting as more and more information comes out and assuming— Assuming that the information comes out, which it hasn’t to now. I mean, as your viewers may be aware, that Epstein was tried in 2008 and was given a very light slap on the wrist. And unfortunately, all the material in that case was suppressed so that neither the victims nor the public could get access to it. On July 3rd of this year, it began to come out. It was a judge here in New York who said it no longer had to remain secret. So as that stuff starts to come out, we might learn a lot more about what he was doing with whom. I mean, that is, who participated in his sexual exploits as either friends or customers or whatever. But I almost only wanted to get to the next piece, which is really the one that I think is the most critical at this moment, which is the role of not only who’s now the current Secretary of Labor, Mr. Acosta—

MARC STEINER Right. Alexander Acosta. Yeah.

DAVID ROSEN Right. But also the attorneys who defended him— that is, Epstein during his trial— who worked for Kirkland, which was where the current Attorney General works and who at that time, not him personally but his firm, represented Epstein. And also there’s Attorney Dershowitz who’s been a strong supporter of Mr. Trump all the way along. So the plot thickens—And Kenneth Starr. How could one forget Kenneth Starr in the midst of all this? So there’s a lot more to be uncovered in this exposé. But it’s really about the battle over patriarchy, and the fact that—I mean, it’s to me ironic. I live here in New York City, and today the mayor and the city celebrated the women’s soccer team which won the world championship. So we’re in a moment where this great celebration is going on, as well as these great revelations. And it’s the women who’ve been pushing this all the way along. I’m sorry.

MARC STEINER No, no. It’s fine. I mean, we live in a world, as always, a mass of contradictions. And I think that it’s an interesting moment to juxtapose or to bring the program on the women and what they did in the US Soccer Team, and the power that they have, and what they stood for, and what they’re standing for, and then this story. I mean, let me go back a minute here. I mean, when the FBI prepared that 53-page sex crime indictment against Epstein back in 2007, he could have gone to prison for life, right? And instead of facing these charges of sex trafficking and everything else that happened to him, it was just two minor charges. I think, if I remember it right, it was solicitation of prostitution and procurement of minors. And so, he was represented by the people you talked about, and Acosta was the prosecuting attorney.

DAVID ROSEN Correct. Who also worked with that same law firm. You have to understand that Acosta had previously worked for that same law firm. And the guy—His name is, I believe, Lefkowitz who was the principal attorney representing Epstein, was his friend, and they worked together at this law firm. And they cut a deal basically outside of conventional legal procedures. You know, between a prosecutor and a representative of a defense suspect. They went to a motel, or a hotel rather, and they sat down, and they cut a deal. Unheard of and—

MARC STEINER So let me just ask this question. I mean, what you just said. What do we know about that? I mean, how can you prove there was collusion between Acosta and these people to let Epstein off?

DAVID ROSEN Well, it’s not necessarily—I mean, I’m not accusing them of any kind of collusion. I’m basically repeating information that The Miami Herald—And I recommend to anybody who was really interested in this story in terms of its origins and how it played out, read Julie Brown’s pieces about last year in 2018. Her pieces kickballed, rolled, kickrolled this whole story. She is an exception—There was an exceptional piece and they won a Pulitzer for it because it revealed what was really going on in this trial and how it got completely manipulated. Now I’m not saying there’s collusion. I think that you would need to go to a trial to determine, but there’s a lot of weird stuff that went on that’s not acceptable legal practice.

MARC STEINER And in all of this, one of the things that never seems to come out in all of this, it clearly was swept under the rug in this case, and involved Acosta when he was prosecuting it, and it continues to happened to people, is that the children who were the victims of the sex trafficking world— mostly young girls who many were young women of color or young working-class kids. Some of them not even knowing what they were getting into. What about them? I mean, they’re the ones who get swept to the side here, right?

DAVID ROSEN Absolutely. No, I agree with you 100%. I mean, the sad part of this story in terms of my—And again, I refer you back to The Miami Herald that did some great work on this, and they have a really interesting set of videos with interviews with some of the girls who’ve now grown up in this report. And what you get is a feeling I kept getting. I mean, A, I can’t imagine this happening to them. I think they were seduced into it by money, by having fun, and then drugs and a good time. And when you’re fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, you don’t see the consequences and you don’t fully appreciate or understand what you’re getting yourself into. As I mentioned earlier, I have two daughters and I can’t picture them having—I can’t picture them, but I can imagine the kids of their age when they were that age being seduced by this. It’s very exciting.

MARC STEINER Well, I mean there was an article that came out just—

DAVID ROSEN Let me just add one more piece because I think these were poor and working-class girls who essentially, I keep thinking that their parents, I would wonder if they supported Trump. Because they come out of the same demographics that would support him, assuming I understand the demographics and all that. It’s the scary—I mean, it’s the weird contradictions of this whole thing.

MARC STEINER But the kind of sense of power that some men have, their sense of having a right to young girls if they want young girls, it crosses political lines. This, I mean, it goes from right to left, and everything in between. I mean, and that’s something that we seem to be loath to kind of address, is what has happened to our society when this patriarchal insanity has taken over our behavior and what we think is appropriate. Not that people think it’s appropriate, but it’s allowed to go on. I mean—

DAVID ROSEN Yeah. I mean, I don’t disagree with you. I mean, I think that the, you know, there’s a-whole-nother world that this is only tangentially related to because it’s a little more sophisticated and upmarket. But, you know, there’s vast worldwide sex rings of pedophiles and they’re a scary group. I mean, there’s just these networks and they’re also, I mean, they’re networks in the formal sense that they actually have websites and secret, you know, Facebook or other that haven’t been discovered. And some get outed and some get arrested. But there’s even tours that I’ve written about that men go off to these tours to either Mexico or—

MARC STEINER Thailand. Right.

DAVID ROSEN And it’s a sick—It’s a pathology. You know, it’s a sexual pathology of really, power. And it’s the execution of power by people who have it against people who don’t, and with a sexual dimension to it. I mean, power is played out in many different ways. This is one of them, and this is probably the most barbaric. And persists, has been persisting forever.

MARC STEINER So a couple things before we run out of time. Before we went on the air, there was a story that came out and this may be of many stories coming out in the coming days and weeks. A woman whose name is Jennifer Araoz told the story of when she was 15-years-old. A woman came to her and talked to her and brought her over to Epstein’s house and showed her around. The next time, she came by herself. Epstein showed her the bedroom and a place where there was a massage table, where he had her strip down to her panties and massage him. And then after a few visits, she was raped, and he paid $300 per visit. And she didn’t think anything of it at first, until she was raped. And then, she never went back. But I mean, so here’s another story that came out just today, just before our conversation began. So as this unfolds, I’m curious if this might be the case that opens up the chance to really prosecute and go after men in power who have done these things in a broader scale in terms of his connections. And B— kind of helps the country really understand the depth of this issue.

DAVID ROSEN Well, I hope so. I mean, the case that started the New York inquiry, and I apologize I can’t remember the woman’s name. I think it’s [Giuffre]. I don’t remember her name. I apologize. She has been pursuing her case against a woman named Maxwell who is Epstein’s, sort of, pimp, if you will, who solicited many of these girls and used her own, sort of— she apparently comes from a very upper-class English background— used her, sort of, British airs to essentially assuage the fears and concerns of the parents of some of these young girls. What happened is this young woman who’s now, I don’t know, she’s like in her 30s I think. She brought the suit that the New York judge overturned on July 3rd, which permits the opening up of all the records that would’ve been suppressed by Mr. Acosta. Remember, that was one of his actions. He suppressed all the information. Now, I don’t know if the woman you’re mentioning, the young girl you’re mentioning, if she’s part of that suit or if she’s even identified in the material. I haven’t had the opportunity to read the material. But I think there’s going to be a lot of these cases. And again, I don’t know if she’s part of Florida because the Florida case may have been already closed, and they won’t be able to go back to reopen it. I’m not a lawyer, so I can’t do that. But the New York one—

MARC STEINER I think this one was in New York, but yeah.

DAVID ROSEN Oh, in New York. So there you go. I mean, then she may as well join this suit, or with other New York women who will join the suit. Anyway, I mean, there’s just—

MARC STEINER That’s fine. Before we close, I mean, there’s the question of political power and what could be opened up here and what all this means, and all the connections are made. Just for our listeners— it will be up on the screen— want to read this quote that came from New York magazine several years back from Trump, and I think it’s really enlightening. The entire quote’s enlightening, so let me let you look at it and I’ll read it to you.

DAVID ROSEN I know the Trump—

MARC STEINER It said, “‘I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy,’ Trump booms from a speaker phone. ‘He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful woman as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it— Jeffrey enjoys his social life.’”


MARC STEINER So once again, we’re seeing this horrendous, misogynistic behavior from Trump. With that, we can comment on that just briefly, but I’m curious just about the unfolding story of men in power and this, and covering up for one another, which is what this is all about.

DAVID ROSEN Yeah. I mean, first of all, the Trump quote seems totally Trump. I mean, in his sentence, you know, he says the obvious. And, you know, with a wink and a nod, so everybody knows what the real story is, but he won’t say it. There is, as I may have mentioned, I encourage your viewers to check it out. There’s been a series in 2016 in this magazine called Jezebel about the relationships between Trump and Epstein in terms of their, sort of, buddy-buddy tag team sex scenes at both of their houses or estates, whatever you want to call them. In New York City, they dated a series of women and one woman has raised this question legally as to being raped. She was thirteen at the time. So now, getting to your deeper question, again, this is—I apologize if I sound simplistic. This is patriarchy and power playing itself out in a sexual dimension.

Yeah. I mean, what’s stunning to me is the, is that everyone is— [sighs] We all know this. I mean, there’s a way in which—I shouldn’t say we all. I mean, anyone who has a critical perspective about how the capitalist system works and what wealth does, this only confirms our worst sense of how the system works because when there’s no social safeguards and these guys can act out their power in any way they want, they do it many different ways. I mean, who knows what the other ways they do it, but the sexual one especially with young and more— as I would call them— innocent because they’re only 13, 14-years-old. It’s something pathologic. It’s scary. It’s sick. There’s a social sickness that’s very deep that these people share. I personally can’t imagine doing this. Having raised two daughters, I can’t picture. I can’t imagine it.

MARC STEINER I just hope that politically we really wrestle with this in an honest way, and something comes out of this beyond just another story that we talk about in the media. And, David Rosen, I’m sorry, I deeply appreciate you taking time. It’s been a great conversation. As we do more of this, I look forward to really talking to you a great deal more and I encourage people to read your work. I think that your book, [Sin, Sex & Subversion], is an amazing book and people should check that out if they want to, kind of, get the depth and background of what this can mean.

DAVID ROSEN Well, I have a website. They can go to davidrosenwrites— just simple that. I write a lot. And, yeah. Please.

MARC STEINER We will link to that and—

DAVID ROSEN Cool. Thanks so much.

MARC STEINER No, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate—

DAVID ROSEN No. It’s a great pleasure. Have fun. Thanks so much for inviting me.


DAVID ROSEN Thank you. Bye-bye now.

MARC STEINER And I’m Marc Steiner here for The Real News Network. We deeply appreciate you watching. We’ll be covering this with some depth. Take care.

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Host, The Marc Steiner Show
Marc Steiner is the host of "The Marc Steiner Show" on TRNN. He is a Peabody Award-winning journalist who has spent his life working on social justice issues. He walked his first picket line at age 13, and at age 16 became the youngest person in Maryland arrested at a civil rights protest during the Freedom Rides through Cambridge. As part of the Poor People’s Campaign in 1968, Marc helped organize poor white communities with the Young Patriots, the white Appalachian counterpart to the Black Panthers. Early in his career he counseled at-risk youth in therapeutic settings and founded a theater program in the Maryland State prison system. He also taught theater for 10 years at the Baltimore School for the Arts. From 1993-2018 Marc's signature “Marc Steiner Show” aired on Baltimore’s public radio airwaves, both WYPR—which Marc co-founded—and Morgan State University’s WEAA.