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This woman guaranteed that the name Jeffrey Epstein would become notorious

Julie K. Brown’s investigative reporting resurfaced the depth of Epstein’s crimes, leading to his arrest last year and the ongoing investigation.

This woman guaranteed that the name Jeffrey Epstein would become notorious
[Photo: Eileen Soler]

Jeffrey Epstein was still flying on private jets in late 2018 when the Miami Herald‘s Julie K. Brown published an investigative series detailing his trafficking and sexual abuse of girls as young as 14. Much of the world had forgotten that he’d pleaded guilty a decade earlier to soliciting a minor for prostitution. Even more lost to history was the role of then U.S. attorney Alexander Acosta, who led the prosecution. But when President Trump nominated Acosta to be labor secretary, in 2017, Brown knew the story warranted a fresh look. She spent the next several months amassing documents and identifying 80 of Epstein’s former victims. “The more I learned about it,” she says, the odder it seemed—especially a secret plea deal led by Acosta. Soon after Brown’s series was published, the Justice Department began investigating the plea deal, and by summer 2019, Epstein had been indicted for creating a “vast network of underage victims for him to sexually exploit.” By the time he was found dead in his cell while awaiting trial, he had become the most notorious face of the #MeToo era, while Brown stood as an inspiring example of a local journalist’s pursuit of the truth. She is now writing a book about her work, and Adam McKay is developing a project based on it for HBO. Asked where she thinks her efforts have made the most impact, Brown gets choked up. “It’s definitely the women,” she says. “They didn’t think anyone gave a fuck about them before the series ran. It changed their lives.”

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About the author

Christopher Zara is a senior staff news editor for Fast Company and obsessed with media, technology, business, culture, and theater. Before coming to FastCo News, he was a deputy editor at International Business Times, a theater critic for Newsweek, and managing editor of Show Business magazine

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