Vanity Fair is receiving heat for covering up the sexual assault allegations against Jeffrey Epstein in a 2003 profile of the billionaire. According to The Daily Beast, Vicky Ward, a writer for Vanity Fair at the time, had discovered accusations against the 66-year-old and wanted to publish them. Graydon Carter, the editor of the magazine, declined.
In the article, Ward claimed that Epstein was overbearing when he learned that a profile was being written about him. Ward, guided by Epstein’s former “mentor” and convicted Ponzi scheme fraudster Steve Hoffenberg, soon discovered financial irregularities in Epstein’s life, and wrote that she could not understand how the billionaire came into his money, or subsidized his lifestyle.
However, Epstein was unconcerned when Ward addressed the financial aspect of the piece. Instead, he allegedly asked the reporter the same question.
“What do you have on the girls?”
As it turned out, Ward did have information on at least two “girls,” a pair of sisters who had both allegedly been molested by the Palm Beach scion. The younger sister had been just 16 at the time, and had been coerced into the compromising situation by a promise of a European work experience that would — and did — earn her a spot at an Ivy League school.
When Epstein was informed about the charges in the article, Ward says that he went into “overdrive” in order to make the accusations disappear.
“He called Graydon. He also repeatedly phoned me. He said, ‘Just the mention of a 16-year-old girl… carries the wrong impression. I don’t see what it adds to the piece. And that makes me unhappy.'”
However, Epstein’s alleged attacks did not stop there. Ward claims that Epstein even resorted to creating fake evidence in order to try and disprove his accusers.
“Next, Epstein attacked both me and my sources. Letters purporting to be from the women were sent to Graydon, which the women claimed (and gave evidence to show me) were fabricated fakes,” Ward continued.
“And then there was Epstein himself, who… got past security at Condé Nast and went into the Vanity Fair offices. By now everyone at the magazine was completely spooked.”
Ward, who had just prematurely delivered twins, claimed that she was so scared by his drastic response that when Epstein asked in which NICU her newborns were located, she decided to hire security as a precaution.
But the story has an unhappy ending. Despite the strong claims of the two girls and their mother, Carter allegedly decided to delete any mention of underage girls in the piece, as Epstein was “sensitive” about the subject.
“I began to cry. It was so wrong,” Ward said.
When she later asked Carter about the decision, he claimed that “he believed [Epstein.]”
However, though Ward says she does not necessarily blame Carter, she the entire incident still “rankles” her. She concluded that her biggest regret is the worry that the piece might have prompted the FBI to go after Epstein sooner, and that some of his victims could have been saved.