On Thursday morning, a New York court unsealed documents related to a since-settled defamation lawsuit brought by Jeffrey Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre against Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s longtime companion. Of particular note is a much-anticipated, seven-hour and 465-page deposition Maxwell gave in 2016, the latest in a series of documents released following a ruling this summer.
As of Monday, the court was still considering requests from two John Does to have their names redacted, a request that appears to have been honored in the heavily edited deposition. Though the press is currently trawling through the document for scintillating details, there is little new information about the powerful men who visited Epstein’s island or flew in his plane. In fact, there are few proper names of any men at all.
The bulk of the deposition involves sordid and disturbing lines of questioning about Epstein’s own sexual preferences and terse and categorical denials from Maxwell, who said she had no recollection of meeting Giuffre—a former “sex slave,” in Giuffre’s words, allegedly recruited from a job at Mar-a-Lago—and stated she had “no idea what you are talking about” when asked whether she’d seen a person under 18 who wasn’t a child of a friend in Epstein’s home. In one of the few portions of the document that contains the unredacted name of a public figure, Maxwell said Guiffre was “absolutely totally lying” about Bill Clinton’s relationship with Epstein, and his visit to the alleged sex trafficker’s island. To give one instance from the wildly unilluminating document:
Q. Do you remember [REDACTED] being present in New York for a party where [REDACTED] was also present?
A. I don’t recollect.
The release of the deposition comes two years after the Miami Herald first sued to have additional documents in the case unsealed, and as Julie K. Brown, the reporter best known for her investigation of Epstein at the paper, notes, it’s unclear why the court has decided to protect the identities of powerful men who ostensibly did nothing wrong. As she writes, two young women’s names are included in the deposition, while even some male lawyers were provided confidentiality by the court. On Twitter, she’s making a rather pointed show of identifying some of the redacted names based on previous reporting.
Internet sleuths are already attempting, with somewhat less expertise, to match the redacted names based on the heavily edited document’s line spacing. Fueled in part by Guiffre posting a QAnon slogan this morning, conspiracy theorists are making wild conjectures about the release. All of which begs the question of why, given such a well-publicized and controversial set of documents, the court chose to protect the identities of powerful and supposedly unimplicated men instead of offering the clarity just a bit of transparency might provide.
Maxwell remains in Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center, having been denied bail in July.