|Jeffrey Epstein and New Mexico ranch|
(From The Daily Beast)
A New Mexico real-estate agent saw signs more than 25 years ago that accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein had a perverse taste for the flesh of underage girls, but she did not know what to make of it at the time, according a report yesterday at The Daily Beast.
Pat French encountered Epstein while the wealthy New Yorker was looking to buy a ranch in New Mexico. Epstein wound up buying from another agent, but not before leaving some disturbing and indelible images in French's mind. From reporter Michael Daly at The Daily Beast:
Saying something when you see something—the post-9/11 adage about terrorism—should also apply to the sexual abuse of underage girls.
Of course, not everybody could be expected to have understood the significance of what they were seeing before Epstein’s proclivities became widely known. That included realtor Pat French of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Back in September of 1992, French was on the way to take her tween-turning-teen daughter and a friend to see the first woman to lead the Cherokee tribe, when she stopped at a luxury hotel to drop off some papers to a mega-rich New Yorker who was shopping for a ranch.
When she rang the doorbell to the suite at the Rancho Encantado that September day in 1992, Jeffrey Epstein was not who answered.
“There were all these girls,” French told The Daily Beast this week. “A little bit older than my daughter. Not much.”
French made what seemed at the time to be a completely reasonable assumption.
“I thought, ‘Oh, these must be his daughters and friends he took along on the trip,’” French recalled.
In time, French realized her assumption was off target:
She did not know at the time that Epstein had no children.
The girls took the papers, which described properties that French thought might interest Epstein. He had told her he was seeking isolation.
“He wanted really far away from people,” French recalled.
French proceeded on with her daughter and friends to see Cherokee Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller receive an an award from the International Women’s Forum. Mankiller—now deceased, from cancer in 2010—was a leading champion of women’s rights as well as Native American rights and human rights in general. Mankiller was taking particular steps to combat the sexual abuse of children in her tribe. French never imagined that the girls she saw back at the plush Rancho Encantado were victims of evil such as Mankiller battled.
“I had no idea about this man,” French later told The Daily Beast.
Epstein wound up buying a ranch that came with political attachments:
French had no further dealings with Epstein. He chose to buy a ranch through another realtor, Rhonda King, who was also then a representative to the New Mexico state legislature. The purchase of the 10,000-acre Zorro Ranch came with an additional, instant political connection, as Epstein bought it from the realtor’s uncle, former Gov. Bruce King.
Epstein proceeded to build a 26,700 square foot hacienda-style hilltop mansion, the largest private home in Santa Fe County, perhaps the state. The former governor’s brother, New Mexico State treasurer David King, was quoted saying of Epstein, “He’s building what you want as a heavenly ranch.”
Epstein was reported to have bought $600 bed sheets. He was said to have his bread flown in from New York.
“They do have money,” a local builder remarked.
Money apparently helped provide cover for Epstein's dark side:
Visitors to the mansion included the leading candidate for governor in 2002, Bill Richardson, who was later quick to say that he was accompanied by his wife. Epstein contributed $50,000 to Richardson’s campaign. Epstein kicked in another $50,000 towards Richardson’s successful run for reelection in 2006.
Gary King, the former governor’s son, was running for state attorney general that year and Epstein donated $15,000 to his primary campaign. Epstein also donated $10,000 toward Jim Bacca’s campaign to become head of the land commission and $2,000 toward Santa Fe County Sheriff Jim Solano's bid for reelection.
In the meantime, Epstein was apparently flying in underage girls as well as fresh bread, usually through Santa Fe when he was using his Gulfstream, or the larger Albuquerque airport when using his Boeing 727. One of his accusers would say that she was raped at the ranch when she was 15.
No doubt people at the airports and ranch workers and folks in town saw the girls. But nobody seems to have contacted the authorities even after the news broke in July 2006 that Epstein was being charged in Florida with having sex with underage girls.
The following year, Epstein was allowed to plead guilty to just one count of engaging a minor in prostitution. This unconscionable deal allowed him to serve just 13 months of nights and weekends in a private section of the Palm Beach County Jail. A resident of Santa Fe recalled to The Daily Beast that when she went into a local newsstand, the proprietor remarked, “Oh, he always used to come into town with all these girls.”