Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Jeffrey Epstein Is Just An Ordinary Monster

In the case of Jeffrey Epstein, now formally charged in federal court with multiple counts of sex trafficking and conspiracy, we must hope that justice delayed is truly not justice denied. Jeffrey Epstein has been charged with crimes that occurred nearly twenty years ago, many of which could have and very likely should have been charged some twelve years ago, when he was first arrested for similar crimes (if not for the same crimes), only to wangle an amazingly lenient sentence. His victims, both alleged and admitted, have been denied justice from then until now.

Nobody knows, at this time, the precise number of young girls Epstein fondled, molested, and forcibly raped. Nobody knows, at this time, the extent to which Epstein furnished these girls to others to be fondled, molested, and forcibly raped. We know that he is alleged to be involved in sex trafficking of children, and we know from the bail memorandum that his New York home contained an appallingly large cache of child pornography. We may reasonably extrapolate from this that the potential pool of victims in this case might well be in the vicinity of 100, perhaps more.

That one man could prey on that many girls is nothing short of appalling. There are no words to adequately describe such evil, except one.

Ordinary.

The most appalling aspect of the Jeffrey Epstein case is how ordinary it truly is. The most appalling aspect of the allegations against Jeffrey Epstein is how mundane they truly are.

Let us consider some numbers that we do know:
In terms of the number of likely victims, the Jeffrey Epstein case is not even a percentage point of the total just in this country. In terms of the number of new victims each year from such crimes, Jeffrey Epstein's total victim count is likely less than any given year's increment. In terms of the raw quantity of his evil, Jeffery Epstein does not appear to be anywhere near the top rank of perpetrators.

He is, in a word, ordinary--an ordinary monster. There are others just like him facelessly prowling the United States, anonymously stalking across the world.

Even our outrage towards Jeffrey Epstein is ordinary. As appalling as the statistics I have cited are, they do not indicate a country or a culture that is at all tolerant of sexual assault. Quite the contrary, as I have observed before, these same damning data sets show a marked intolerance for such crimes:
  • According to RAINN, only 310 of every 1,000 rapes are reported. For comparison, 627 of every 1,000 assaults are reported, and 619 out of every 1,000 robberies are reported. 
  • Of 310 reported rapes, 57 (20%) result in an arrest, and 11 (3.5%) proceed to prosecution. For robberies, the percentages are 27% and 6%, respectively, and for assaults the percentages are 40.7% and 16.7%, respectively.
  • Of every 11 prosecutions for rape, 7, or 63.6%, result in conviction. The conviction rates for robberies and assaults are 59.4% and 39%, respectively.
  • The average sentence for sexual assault is between 8 and 9 years, nationwide (Note: this is a broad average and does not distinguish among categories of sexual assault).
  • The reasons given for not reporting rape and sexual assault generally are as follows:
    • 20% feared retaliation
    • 13% believed the police would not do anything to help
    • 13% believed it was a personal matter
    • 8% reported to a different official
    • 8% believed it was not important enough to report
    • 7% did not want to get the perpetrator in trouble
    • 2% believed the police could not do anything to help
    • 30% gave another reason, or did not cite one reason
When one fully unpacks these statistics, they indicate that prosecutions for sexual assault are more likely to result in conviction than for either robbery or assault, and result in longer periods of incarceration.  Unfortunately, victims of sexual assault are far less likely to report such crimes, even though the vast majority of victims acknowledge that law enforcement will assist and will prosecute the offender. Sexual assault and sex trafficking are particularly difficult to take on because the very nature of the crime often makes the necessary acts of reporting a bridge too far--when reported, the law usually takes sex crimes extremely seriously, but more often than not, victims are unwilling or unable to report, for whatever reason.

More than this, the Department of Justice has devoted major resources both to combating human trafficking and aiding its victims. There are numerous task forces and working groups within the DoJ specifically targeting human trafficking. There are treaties with Mexico and joint prosecution efforts designed to take on human trafficking. 

There is no part of the United States where sex crimes are "acceptable". There is no part of the United States where sexual assault and sexual trafficking are deemed "okay" by civilized society.

There is also no part of the United States where these crimes do not occur every day. There is also no part of the United States where more Jeffrey Epsteins lurk in the shadows, preying on women, preying on children, and, at least for today, evading capture and conviction.

People in this country do not want sex trafficking to continue. Yet it continues--it continues, and at times it even gets worse.

There is a Jeffrey Epstein in every neighborhood. There is a Jeffrey Epstein near every school. There is a Jeffrey Epstein in every workplace. The statistics tell us this. The numbers assure us of this. Whether we wish to admit this or not, we know this to be true.

We should be angry at Jeffrey Epstein.  We should be enraged at the arrogance of his crimes, and we should be outraged at the seeming complicity of law enforcement in facilitating them. We should seek swift and severe justice for Jeffrey Epstein and for anyone who has joined him in serial sexual predation on children.

But we should also remember all the Jeffrey Epsteins not yet caught. We should remember all the victims for whom justice is not merely delayed, but completely and permanently denied. As we rejoice that Jeffrey Epstein is finally being called to account for all his dear offenses, let us not fool ourselves into thinking that this is even a major victory.

Jeffrey Epstein is a small battle, representing a small victory, in what the numbers paint as a very big war. Jeffrey Epstein is a monster--but, alas, he is a depressingly ordinary monster. 

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