- Following Ghislaine Maxwell’s conviction, accusers said they hoped more Epstein associates would be brought to justice.
- But prosecutors won’t charge Jeffrey Epstein’s associate Lesley Groff, her lawyers told Insider.
- Accusers filed civil lawsuits alleging Groff facilitated Epstein’s sexual abuse. Those suits have been withdrawn.
Federal prosecutors have no plans to bring charges against Lesley Groff, an associate of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein who was reportedly under criminal investigation for sex trafficking, according to her attorneys.
Groff’s lawyers, Michael Bachner and Jon Whitcomb, said Thursday in a statement provided to Insider that prosecutors in Manhattan would not file an indictment against their client.
“After a more than two-year investigation by the Department of Justice into Jeffrey Epstein’s conduct, which included lengthy interviews of witnesses and a thorough review of relevant communications, we have been informed that no criminal charges will be brought against Lesley Groff,” Bachner and Whitcomb said.
The attorneys added that Groff “never witnessed anything improper or illegal.”
The New York Times first reported in 2019 that federal prosecutors were considering sex-trafficking charges against Groff, who worked as an executive assistant for Epstein for nearly 20 years. A spokesperson for Groff told Insider that she was cooperating in the investigation.
Groff was one of four Epstein employees named in a non-prosecution agreement the financier signed with federal prosecutors in Florida in 2007. The agreement, which has been widely criticized, allowed Epstein to serve a lenient sentence in Palm Beach County jail in Florida on prostitution solicitation charges rather than face a federal sex-trafficking indictment. The document also said that federal prosecutors would not bring criminal charges against Groff and the other women, who it described as “potential co-conspirators.”
Federal agents arrested Epstein in August 2019 following an investigation from Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown that exposed the scope of the agreement. He died in his jail cell while awaiting trial. In 2020, the FBI arrested Ghislaine Maxwell on suspicion of sex-trafficking girls to Epstein and sexually abusing them herself.
Prior to her conviction, Maxwell argued that the same non-prosecution agreement protected her from all federal prosecution. US District Judge Alison Nathan, who oversaw her case, rejected that argument.
Bachner had previously indicated that Groff would avoid prosecution, telling Brown for her book “Perversion of Justice” that federal prosecutors “do not intend to bring criminal charges against Lesley Groff.”
A representative for the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which is conducting the investigation into the conduct of Epstein and his associates, declined to comment to Insider on the decision of whether to charge Groff.
‘The tip of the iceberg’
A jury convicted Maxwell at trial on Wednesday. Maria Farmer, whose sister Annie Farmer testified against Maxwell at the trial, told Insider that while her family was “elated by the verdict,” the case was “only the tip of the iceberg.”
“As thrilled as I am by this arrest, it is only the tip of the iceberg,” she said. “There should be many to follow.”
Virginia Giuffre, who has also accused Epstein, Maxwell, and other associates of sexual misconduct, also said Wednesday that other people in their orbit must face justice.
“I hope that today is not the end but rather another step in justice being served,” she said. “Maxwell did not act alone. Others must be held accountable. I have faith that they will be.”
Groff’s name came up several times in Maxwell’s trial. One woman, who testified under the pseudonym “Kate” and said Epstein sexually abused her for years, said that Groff was one of Epstein’s office assistants who booked flights for her to travel to his residences in New York, Palm Beach, and the US Virgin Islands. Larry Visoski and David Rodgers, two of Epstein’s longtime private jet pilots, both said Groff was a secretary who worked for Epstein in the 1990s and 2000s, and who scheduled flights for Epstein.
According to her attorneys, Groff’s job included “making appointments for Epstein as directed by him, taking his messages, and setting up high-level meetings with CEOs, business executives, scientists, politicians, celebrities, charitable organizations, and universities.”
In a 2005 interview with the New York Times, Groff described herself as an extension of Epstein’s brain.
“It comes down to the bond,” she told the Times. “I know what he is thinking and I know when I need to be fast. It’s a nice roll we are on.”
In the same article, Epstein described Groff as so valuable that, when she became pregnant in 2004, he paid for a full-time nanny and brought her a Mercedes-Benz so that she could keep working for him.
“There is no way that I could lose Lesley to motherhood,” Epstein told the Times.
Epstein victims accused Groff of facilitating sexual abuse
Civil lawsuits filed against Groff, all of which have since been dropped, depict her as one of Epstein’s enablers.
One lawsuit, filed in October by an anonymous “Jane Doe,” alleged Groff “facilitated Epstein’s trafficking and sexual abuse of Jane, including by purchasing plane tickets, sending money, making appointments, and sending various communications.” The suit says Epstein sexually abused Jane in New York, France, the US Virgin Islands, and Florida between 2017 and 2019, up until Epstein was arrested. Groff also paid Jane cash after sexual encounters, the lawsuit alleges.
Jane and Groff jointly agreed to voluntarily dismiss the lawsuit with respect to Groff on Wednesday night, shortly after the verdict against Maxwell. The lawsuit is still pending with respect to allegations it made against Darren Indyke and Richard Kahn, the executors of Epstein’s estate, who have both denied any wrongdoing.
An attorney for Jane didn’t immediately respond Thursday to Insider’s request for comment. Bachner and Whitcomb said they were “not surprised” the case was dropped.
“Our hearts truly break for any person victimized by Epstein but the truth is — Lesley had no knowledge of and no participation in any of the illegal conduct alleged in the lawsuit,” the attorneys said in a statement.
At least two other accusers, Sarah Ransome and Jennifer Araoz, previously brought civil lawsuits against Groff. Both women dropped their litigation once they accepted money from the Epstein Victims’ Compensation Program, which was established by Epstein’s estate after his death to pay compensation to his victims. But as Insider previously reported, the program required claimants to abandon civil claims against the estate and Epstein’s former employees, including Groff and Maxwell.
Groff denied wrongdoing in Ransome and Araoz’s lawsuits as well. Araoz’s lawsuit had accused Groff of scheduling “massages” with Epstein, who sexually abused Araoz on those encounters.
“Participation in the Victims’ Compensation Program requires permanent discontinuance of all legal actions against former employees of Jeffrey Epstein, including Ms. Groff,” Araoz’s attorney, Eric Lerner, told the New York Daily News at the time. “My client maintains the truth and veracity of all of the allegations in her pleadings.”