CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands – Ask about Jeffrey Epstein on St. Thomas and rooms go quiet. Some folks depart. Those that share tales communicate in only audible tones.

The 66-year-old billionaire purchased Little St. James Island off this U.S. Caribbean territory greater than twenty years in the past and started to rework it – clearing the native vegetation, ringing the property with towering palm timber and planting two huge U.S. flags on both finish. When guides took scuba divers to spots close to the island, safety guards would stroll to the water’s edge.

It was off-putting to residents of St. Thomas – a lush tropical island east of Puerto Rico with winding roads by way of mountains dotted with dainty Danish colonial-era properties. Then, when Epstein pleaded responsible in a 2008 to soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution, his want for privateness began appearing extra sinister.

“All people known as it ‘Pedophile Island,’” stated Kevin Goodrich, who’s from St. Thomas and operates boat charters. “It’s our darkish nook.”

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Many individuals who labored for Epstein instructed The Related Press this week that they’d signed lengthy non-disclosure agreements, and refused to speak. One former worker who declined to be recognized stated Epstein as soon as had 5 boats, together with a big ferry during which he transported as much as 200 employees from St. Thomas to his island on daily basis for building work.

The person stated he noticed a handful of younger girls when he was on Epstein’s property however he believed they had been older than 18.

“When he was there, it was hold to your self and do your factor,” the person recalled, including that Epstein paid nicely and would give away older equipment and surplus together with lumber to his workers.

Epstein constructed a stone mansion with cream-colored partitions and a shiny turquoise roof surrounded by a number of different buildings together with the maids’ quarters and an enormous, square-shaped white constructing on one finish of the island. Employees instructed one another it was a music room fitted with a grand piano and acoustic partitions. Its gold dome flew off through the lethal 2017 hurricane season.

Locals recalled seeing Epstein’s black helicopter flying backwards and forwards from the tiny worldwide airport in St. Thomas to his helipad on Little St. James Island, a roughly 75-acre retreat somewhat over a mile (about 2 kilometers) southeast of St. Thomas.

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Epstein later purchased neighboring Nice St. James Island, which as soon as was well-liked with locals and vacationers for its primary attraction, Christmas Cove, a spot the place you might hang around and order pizza and have it delivered by way of boat.

“He wasn’t nicely obtained,” recalled Spencer Consolvo, a St. Thomas native who runs a vacationer store close to a big marina. “Individuals assume he’s too wealthy to be policed correctly.”

Federal authorities take into account the smaller of the 2 islands to be Epstein’s major residence in the US, a spot the place no less than one alleged sufferer stated in a court docket affidavit that she participated in an orgy, in addition to had intercourse with Epstein and different folks.

She stated she noticed former U.S. President Invoice Clinton on the island, however that she by no means noticed him having intercourse with anybody. A Clinton spokesman issued a press release saying he by no means visited there.

A day after he pleaded not responsible in a New York courtroom to fees of sexually abusing dozens of underage women, there was scant motion on the Caribbean island. Hurricane shutters lined the home windows, locals hadn’t seen any lights at evening and a lone employee drove a shiny blue golf cart across the property.

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At a close-by workplace that locals say Epstein owns in a seaside strip mall, a person in a T-shirt and sun shades on his head opened the door a crack, shook his head vehemently when requested about Epstein and locked the door. The agency, Southern Belief Firm Inc., employed Cecile de Jongh, spouse of former Gov. John de Jongh, as its workplace supervisor, in response to information with the U.S. Virgin Islands Financial Growth Authority.

In the meantime, Epstein’s arrest additionally prompted the U.S. Virgin Islands consultant in Congress, Stacey Plaskett, to announce she would give the cash Epstein had donated to her campaigns to charitable teams.

Now that Epstein has been arrested a second time, locals say vacationers are more and more asking about his islands once they go to St. Thomas. A lady who didn’t wish to be recognized for worry of shedding her job working a constitution firm stated she was elated when Epstein acquired arrested however is now vexed at vacationers’ curiosity, saying she reluctantly shares whispered particulars of his case to prying adults if youngsters are round.

A few of that fascination aggravates Vernon Morgan, a taxi driver and St. Thomas native.

“It introduced some form of notoriety to the Virgin Islands,” he stated. “We might a lot fairly that the Virgin Islands be seen in a unique gentle.”

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