What motivated four women to allegedly assist disgraced billionaire Jeffrey Epstein in his abuse of dozens of underage girls?
The answer may consist of several psychological factors – including Stockholm Syndrome—according to a prominent New York City psychiatrist.
“It’s complicated to understand whether they did it voluntarily or were controlled, a la Patty Hearst,” Alan Manevitz, MD, a Manhattan-based family psychiatrist told Fox News.
Manevitz has treated patients for Stockholm Syndrome, which occurs when hostages or victims develop a psychological bond with their captors. It refers to a 1973 bank robbery in Stockhom in which hostages were taken.
“For most of us, the fear of punishment prevents us from committing crimes, but how many of us would do it if we knew we could get away with it? Actually, not that many, but there are some who learn strategies to neutralize their moral compass and it is these people who may pose risks later in life.”
According to the new federal indictment unsealed Monday, Epstein created, “a vast network of underage victims for him to sexually exploit” by conspiring with employees, associates, and others to run what was essentially a sex-trafficking enterprise between 2002 and 2005. It appeared that some of those associates included a group of four women who were granted immunity in a controversial plea deal made by then-prosecutor (and current Secretary of Labor) Alexander Acosta.
“Epstein worked in concert with others to obtain minors not only for his own sexual gratification but also for the sexual gratification of others,” according to a line from the court order.
The women who were granted immunity include:
- A former Epstein assistant, Sarah Kellen, who allegedly kept a Rolodex of young women to recruit for trysts with Epstein. She has since married NASCAR racecar driver Brian Vickers and started her own interior design firm called SLK designs. A recent article by The Daily Beast refers to public records showing that Kellen once operated SLK from a midtown Manhattan building owned by Epstein’s brother.
- Adriana Ross, a former model from Poland who was hired by Epstein in 2002 to work at his Florida mansion and allegedly help set up sex sessions for the billionaire. She was questioned in 2010 regarding any participation by Prince Andrew in the trafficking ring set up by Epstein.
- Lesley Groff, another former assistant who allegedly coordinated travel arrangements with young girls and scheduled massage sessions for her boss.
- Nadia Marcinkova, one of Epstein’s alleged “sex slaves,” who allegedly participated in his trysts with underage girls. She is now a commercial pilot certified by the FAA and is a social media influencer who goes by the name “Global Girl.”
“There can be a good captor or a bad captor and when a good one gives you a sense of hope, you try to attach yourself to that and detach yourself from the bad. You wind up on your toes to see the world through their eyes because of this attachment.”
Manevitz did not speculate as to what may have motivated these women to be complicit in Epstein’s sex trafficking ring but said that many people, if they feel trapped or forced to stay in line by a controlling figure in their lives, comply as a way to cope with a dire situation thrust upon them.
“One pathway is people who suffer from Stockholm Syndrome and are acting under the control of the controller,” he said. “There can be a good captor or a bad captor and when a good one gives you a sense of hope, you try to attach yourself to that and detach yourself from the bad. You wind up on your toes to see the world through their eyes because of this attachment.
“One almost becomes brainwashed and wanting to keep them happy.”
Not named in the plea deal but also alleged to have been complicit in helping to operate Epstein’s ring is former girlfriend and longtime confidant Ghislaine Maxwell, a New York City socialite.
In 2015, victim Virginia Roberts filed a legal complaint in the state of Florida in which she accused Maxwell of being Epstein’s madam, according to an article by The Guardian at the time. In the complaint, in which Roberts was originally listed as “Jane Doe #3”, it was alleged that Roberts was approached in 1999 by Maxwell when she was just 15 and was pursued to sleep with Epstein. Roberts also alleges in the suit that she was used as a “sex slave” for nearly three years.
In December of last year, the New York Post reported that a separate lawsuit was brought against Epstein in Manhattan in which the plaintiff, Sarah Ransome, claimed that both he and Maxwell coerced her into having sex while she was in her 20s.
As recently as last April, a New Jersey woman came forward in a sworn affidavit with accusations of her own against Epstein and Maxwell, according to the Miami Herald.
Maxwell, 57, is the daughter of Robert Maxwell, a disgraced publishing mogul who was accused of theft from his company’s pension funds to prevent bankruptcy. The former owner of the New York Daily News was found dead near the Canary Islands in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean just days after he was reported missing from his yacht, the Lady Ghislaine—named after his daughter.
Maxwell was born and raised in England and immigrated to America in 1991 after her father’s death, becoming a fixture in New York City’s social scene. Maxwell has been photographed over the years hobnobbing with Prince Andrew, the Clintons and Donald Trump.
The Oxford-educated Maxwell was the youngest of nine children of Robert Maxwell and his wife, Dr. Elisabeth “Betty” Maxwell (nee Meynard), a French-born researcher who authored two books on the Holocaust and was also a descendant of the Huguenot aristocracy.
During her time in college during the late 80s, Maxwell started The Kit Cat Club, a speaker and discussion club for women in her native England.
In 2012, Maxwell founded the TerraMar Project, a nonprofit group focused on protecting oceans and even gave a Ted talk on protecting the oceans.
According to a 2002 profile of Epstein in New York Magazine, she was described as someone with a “high-octane” social life that helped boost his profile among New York’s high society. Maxwell only dated Epstein for a brief period but they remained friends for years after.
“It’s a mysterious relationship that they have,” journalist David Patrick Columbia said in the New York Magazine interview. “In one way, they are soulmates, yet they are hardly companions anymore. It’s a nice conventional relationship, where they serve each other’s purposes.”
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