Too rich for reality

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Just before the new year, Ghislaine Maxwell a french-born Oxford-educated socialite was convicted on 5 out of 6 charges of recruiting and grooming underage girls for sexual massages. With charges spanning from 1994 to 2004, Maxwell could very well be facing up to 65 years in prison. 

Maxwell’s crimes were connected with Jeffery Epstein, former boyfriend, who was convicted of prostitution in 2008. Due to the lack of consequences Epstein faced, survivors took him to court once again in 2019. Epstein died on August 10, 2019, before he could be convicted.

According to the prosecution’s case, Maxwell was said to be the mastermind behind their scheme. Maxwell invited minors to give Epstein massages in exchange for money. 

There are said to be 36 survivors of the assaults, however, those are just the women brave enough to go on record. Girls had filed reports to the cops back in the 2000s, and Epstein went to court, getting the aforementioned conviction in 2008.

Saying it was a just sentence would be disrespectful to the victims. Epstein spent 13 months in prison, having a heavy work release. Which meant that he was allowed to exit the Florida prison 6 days a week and only required to sleep there. Even though the sentence was 18 months he only had to serve a measly 13 months. Along with paying the victims that came forward restitution, Epstein was also a registered sex offender. 

Media attention only lasted so long in 2008, and wealthy businessmen that Epstein associated with didn’t seem to care about his charges. Frustratingly, the public seemingly just forgot about the faulty trial until in 2020 a Netflix docuseries came out, Jeffery Epstein: Filthy Rich.

The series followed the survivors in telling their stories, accruing both Epstein and Maxwell of sexual trafficking. Going in-depth about the faults of the American judicial system, the series dissected the reason why Epstein got away with his crimes: because he was rich. Loaded. Epstein had more money than the average American will ever have in an average lifetime. 

According to USAToday, back in 2019, just before his death, Epstein had amassed a net worth of 500 million dollars. With that amount of money Epstein and Maxwell could do as they please, and did just that. 

Affluenza is an inability of an individual to understand the consequences of their actions because of their economic or social circumstances. Maxwell and Epstein seemed to be under this umbrella term, they did what they wanted because consequences didn’t affect them.

Berkeley psychologists Paul Piff and Dacher Keltner ran several studies proving that as your wealth amasses, empathy for others begins to decline. One of the only reasons Epstein and Maxwell were able to conduct their scheme for so long was because they were so rich. 

Epstein was able to strike a deal with the district attorney’s office in 2008, with little jail time, which he got out of on work release. Witnesses were scared to come forward because of Epstein’s influence and power. 


Infographic by Tessa Brennan

According to CBS News, 2,750 people have more wealth than half the planet. The disparities between social classes are starting to come to light recently. With the income gap still increasing, the divide between the rich and poor only grows wider.

With this wealth comes power. Power to break the law and not be held accountable as seen in Epstein’s case. The problem with being in the top 10% comes from this false sense of importance. That the rules don’t apply to you. That’s when being rich becomes dangerous.

Tessa Brennan, Staff Reporter