Skip to main contentSkip to footer

Jeffrey Epstein documents unsealed: why were they released and what happens next

Documents from the 2015 case are now being released

NEW YORK CITY, NY - MARCH 15: Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell attend de Grisogono Sponsors The 2005 Wall Street Concert Series Benefitting Wall Street Rising, with a Performance by Rod Stewart at Cipriani Wall Street on March 15, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Share this:

Documents pertaining to Jeffrey Epstein were finally unsealed, revealing the names of dozens of people connected to the disgraced financier on Thursday.

This comes eight years after Virginia Giuffre's 2015 civil lawsuit against the late sex offender's former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell. The case was settled in 2017, and Maxwell was later found guilty of child sex trafficking in 2022, now serving 20 years in prison. Epstein died awaiting trial on federal conspiracy and sex trafficking charges in 2019.

Originally the court documents had been sealed, protecting the names of many people who had involvement with him.

Now, as the likes of Prince Andrew, Michael Jackson, former presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump have been publicly named in the documents, many might question: why are these names only just coming out now? And what is likely to happen next?

Here is everything you need to know as more names are revealed.

What documents were released?

UNSPECIFIED, FL - JULY 25. 2013: In this handout provided by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Jeffrey Epstein poses for a sex offender mugshot after being charged with procuring a minor for prostitution on July 25, 2013 in Florida.   (Photo by Florida Department of Law Enforcement via Getty Images)© Handout
Jeffrey Epstein mugshot

The court documents released show interviews given under oath by Maxwell, Giuffre, and a woman named Johanna Sjoberg. These files, which contain hundreds of pages, also include emails between Epstein and Maxwell; Giuffre and the FBI; as well as Maxwell and her UK lawyers.

Only 40 of about 250 documents have been published so far, with more said to be released in the coming days.

Why have they only just been released now?

NEW YORK CITY, NY - MARCH 15: Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell attend de Grisogono Sponsors The 2005 Wall Street Concert Series Benefitting Wall Street Rising, with a Performance by Rod Stewart at Cipriani Wall Street on March 15, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)© Patrick McMullan
Jeffrey Epstein with former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell

Judge Loretta Preska, a senior United States district judge for the Southern District Court of New York ruled in December 2023 that the documents could now come to light, years after they were first put under court-ordered seal.

She explained that many of the people named in the lawsuit had been publicly identified already by the media or in Maxwell's trial, and many others "did not raise an objection" to these documents being released.

Some names will remain sealed, including those belonging to child victims. 

Who's names have been published so far?

Portrait of American financier Jeffrey Epstein (left) and real estate developer Donald Trump as they pose together at the Mar-a-Lago estate, Palm Beach, Florida, 1997. (Photo by Davidoff Studios/Getty Images)© Davidoff Studios Photography
Jeffrey Epstein with Donald Trump, 1997

In the coming days, more than 150 of Epstein's associates are expected to be revealed. In the first 40 documents alone, the likes of former presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton have been named - except there are no accusations of either committing wrongdoing.

Britain's Prince Andrew, Duke of York leaves after attending for the Royal Family's traditional Christmas Day service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham in eastern England, on December 25, 2023. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)© ADRIAN DENNIS
Prince Andrew is mentioned numerous times

Prince Andrew was named multiple times in the documents, although he reached a multi-million pound settlement with Giuffre in 2022 after she claimed he sexually assaulted her when she was 17.

SANTA MARIA, CA - JUNE 13:  Michael Jackson prepares to enter the Santa Barbara County Superior Court to hear the verdict read in his child molestation case June 13, 2005 in Santa Maria, California. After seven days of deliberation the jury has reached a not guilty verdict on all 10 counts in the trial against Michael Jackson. Jackson was charged in a 10-count indictment with molesting a boy, plying him with liquor and conspiring to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion. He pleaded innocent.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian-Pool/Getty Images)© Pool
Michael Jackson is mentioned in the documents

A number of other incredibly high profile figures have also been mentioned in the documents. Sjoberg refers to meeting Michael Jackson in Epstein's Florida house, but said their relationship was not sexual.

WOODLAND HILLS, CA - JUNE 10: Cameron Diaz joins MPTF to celebrate Health and Fitness at The Wasserman Campus on June 10, 2016 in Woodland Hills, California. (Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)© JB Lacroix
Cameron Diaz is mentioned, although there is no mention of wrongdoing

US magician David Copperfield reportedly performed magic tricks over dinner at one of the properties, asking Sjoberg if she was "aware that girls were getting paid to find other girls".

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 29:  Actors Leonardo DiCaprio and actress Cate Blanchett present the nominee Martin Scorsese onstage during the 57th Annual DGA Awards Dinner at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 29, 2005 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)© Vince Bucci
Cate and Leo are both mentioned, although again there is no mention of wrongdoing

Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Cameron Diaz and Bruce Willis are also mentioned in the documents, although none of them have been accused of involvement in the crimes, or of any wrongdoing. Instead, it seems that Epstein name-dropped celebrity names during massages, according to Sjoberg's testimony.

What happens next for the people listed?

Civil Rights attorney James DeSimone suggested that the publication is unlikely to lead to fresh prosecutions.

"It is unlikely that additional criminal prosecutions will ensue based on the public releasing of these documents", he told Newsweek. "Prosecutors have known about these documents for years and the public revelation of these names and additional details is unlikely to move the needle on the decision to prosecute others."

As Epstein is dead, he would be unable to testify against his aiders and abetters, and Maxwell has already accepted her 20-year sentence. However, the lawyer did explain that these documents will impact the court of public opinion.

"Especially if there is evidence linking prominent individuals with coerced sexual conduct as Virginia Giuffre alleged in her defamation lawsuit", he continued. "And those named in the documents will also have to navigate the wrath of loved ones who were betrayed by this illicit conduct."

More Celebrity News

See more