Lawsuit alleges Cecile de Jongh, former first lady of the US Virgin Islands, earned $200,000 a year on Jeffrey Epstein's payroll

  • A new lawsuit says US Virgin Islands officials ignored Jeffrey Epstein's blatant sex trafficking.

  • Epstein, the suit alleges, paid officials so he could influence laws and get visas for his victims.

  • Claims in this suit were revealed in a separate suit between the Virgin Islands and JP Morgan Chase.

Officials in the US Virgin Islands turned a blind eye to Jeffrey Epstein's sex trafficking and allowed him to continue abusing women, according to a new class action lawsuit filed on behalf of five survivors.

The suit, filed on November 22, names over 100 defendants, ranging from high-ranking government officials in the Virgin Islands — including the former US Virgin Islands Gov. John de Jongh and his wife, the former USVI First Lady Cecile de Jongh — to their lower-ranking staff members. The plaintiffs in their suit say they are a group of five women whom Epstein sex trafficked, identified as Jane Does to protect their identities.

The suit says Epstein paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to US Virgin Islands government officials in salaries, campaign donations, and miscellaneous payments like tuition for the de Jongh children to attend school in exchange for being allowed to operate his sex trafficking operation with impunity and influence local laws.

The de Jonghs did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

Cecile de Jongh, the suit says, was paid an annual salary of $200,000, in addition to payment of her children's school tuition, for aiding Epstein "in obtaining travel documents, including visas, to bring minor women from other countries to the USVI."

"Upon information and belief, First Lady de Jongh also arranged for three young European women to secure student visas to enroll at the University of the Virgin Islands to attend a custom-tailored class to provide cover for the virtual enslavement of these women," the complaint reads. "Epstein's quid pro quo was a $20,000 donation to the University through one of his companies."

In addition to getting help in transporting victims to his private island, Little Saint James, the complaint also alleges Epstein was allowed to give input into the US Virgin Islands' sex offender legislation by the former first lady, who solicited Epstein's input on the language being drafted.

"This is the suggested language; will it work for you?" Cecile de Jongh wrote to Epstein in 2011, according to the suit. According to the suit, he responded with directions on how to loosen the restrictions.

Though his lobbying efforts had mixed success, De Jongh's wife told Epstein she would work with the attorney general to make sure he was not subject to the rules restricting registered sex offenders in the country, the suit says.

Epstein initially became a registered sex offender in 2009 after he pleaded guilty to soliciting sex with a minor, ultimately serving 13 months of his 18-month sentence.

He was arrested again in 2019 and federally charged with trafficking dozens of underage girls as young as 14. Epstein died by suicide about a month after pleading not guilty to the charges and being held without bail.

Other named defendants in the suit are alleged to have helped facilitate Epstein's trafficking operation or given him "special treatment" on the island.

Per the suit, multiple current and former USVI officials asked Epstein for financial advice and assistance securing business investments, as well as accepted loans from the sex offender in exchange for special treatment on the island.

Carlton Dowe, a former senator of USVI, helped Epstein circumvent travel rules that would have required him to give 21 days' notice before leaving the Virgin Islands, the complaint alleges. Stacey Plaskett, a delegate to the US House of Representatives, helped pass tax breaks for Epstein's companies after receiving a $30,000 campaign donation, the suit claims.

The public information officer for the Virgin Islands Port Authority said the agency had not yet been served with any lawsuit, and that Dowe was unavailable to comment.

Representatives for Plaskett did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Business Insider.

"My clients are seeking compensation for the horrific sexual abuse that they endured due to the negligence of the United States Virgin Islands," Jordan Merson, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, told Business Insider. "As set forth in the Complaint, there were repeat instances when the USVI knew or should have known about the sex trafficking that was taking place and failed to stop it."

Representatives of the office of the Attorney General of USVI did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

Many of the accusations described in the complaint were slowly revealed as part of a separate lawsuit between the US Virgin Islands and JP Morgan Chase, in which USVI Attorney General Denise George accused the finance giant of facilitating and helping to cover up Jeffrey Epstein's sex trafficking operation.

The case, which made headlines in the spring, ultimately settled in September for $75 million.

To settle a separate, class-action case filed by Epstein's victims — similar to the case now facing the US Virgin Islands officials — JP Morgan Chase agreed to pay $290 million toward a compensation fund, Business Insider previously reported.

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