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Silverman: Birds of a feather flock together. And worse.

Two Denver lawyers are part of the defense team for Ghislaine Maxwell, who is accused of helping Jeffrey Epstein recruit and abuse underage girls

Growing up near Denver’s Fairmount Cemetery arboretum, I’d notice years when crows and magpies dominated. I always rooted for robins and sparrows. The bigger-billed bully-birds disrespected the smaller birds’ bodies, property and even their offspring. 

Magpies and crows, for all their character flaws, are brilliant birds. So was Jeffrey Epstein. Skipping grades because he was academically gifted, this Brooklyn-born public-schooler announced he’d someday make it big in Manhattan.

That happened. But in strange ways. In the mid-1970s, even without a college degree, Epstein, age 21, taught math at NYC’s prestigious Dalton (Prep) School, hired by Headmaster Donald Barr, father of former Attorney General William Barr.

Small bird world, huh? At Dalton, Epstein made Bear Stearns’ connections and soon became a billionaire, living in the biggest, best mansion on NYC’s Upper East Side.

Craig Silverman

Two weeks ago, I traveled to NYC’s federal courthouse for some bird and court watching. FBI Agent Kelly Maguire testified regarding her 2019 execution of a search warrant at Epstein’s mansion.

Voluminous binders stuffed with labeled discs were seized, but the jury saw only tiny fractions of their contents. Epstein’s many residences reportedly contained secret recording devices. Predatory birds see and hear almost everything.

Epstein became an amoral predator and hypersexual pedophile. After accumulating wealth and connections, Epstein felt above the law, especially after purchasing a tropical island where he could rule absolutely. Epstein pursued sexual interactions with teenage girls, “the younger the better.” 

Two modern American presidents were close pals with Epstein. Bill Clinton flew frequently on Epstein’s 727 (Lolita Express) to Little St. James, Epstein’s infamous private island. 

Donald Trump long enjoyed the company of his fellow teetotaling and womanizing neighbor Epstein, both in NYC and Palm Beach. Does three make a flock? What if we add in Les Wexner and the Duke of York?

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

Neither former president is on trial for being an Epstein enabler. That distinction belongs to Ghislaine Maxwell, youngest and favorite child of the late media magnate Robert Maxwell.  

Ghislaine’s famous father, born a small, picked-on bird, grew through determination and corruption to fly at magnificent financial and media heights. On Nov. 5, 1991, as fraud investigations were closing in, Maxwell, age 68, mysteriously plummeted into the Atlantic Ocean off the Lady Ghislaine, his superyacht named after his daughter.

This December, Ghislaine Maxwell has been sitting in Courtroom 318, actively interacting with her lawyers whom she hugs each day. Her legal team features two accomplished Colorado attorneys, Laura Menninger and Jeff Pagliuca, from the renowned Denver law firm of Haddon, Morgan & Foreman

Pagliuca skillfully cross-examined alleged Epstein/Maxwell victim “Carolyn,” who credibly claimed she was repeatedly fondled three decades prior by Epstein.

Following Epstein’s 2019 jail-cell death, $121 million from his estate became available for his victims. About 150 women, including Carolyn, received proportionate shares depending on the level of abuse. 

On her submitted compensation form, Carolyn claimed sexual abuse far greater than what she told the Maxwell jury. Under Pagliuca’s pointed questions, Carolyn acknowledged certain written exaggerations that had generated several million dollars from Epstein’s fund. Carolyn weakly blamed her civil lawyers for that “mistake.”

Pagliuca also made compelling points as he conducted the critical direct examination of former Miss Sweden and long-ago Epstein girlfriend, Dr. Eva Andersson-Dubin. This board-certified internist and mother of three has been married since 1994 to NYC-, and sometimes Colorado-based, billionaire Glenn Dubin

Dr. Andersson-Dubin denied an insinuation by the first testifying victim “Jane” that she was the Eva who participated in group sexual encounters with Epstein. She told Pagliuca and the jury how she trusted Epstein with her own children.

Many men are culpable in the Epstein saga, but the government maintains that Ghislaine Maxwell was Epstein’s true partner in crime. There are scores of documentaries, books and podcasts. Epstein and Maxwell’s victims are so numerous.

Will Maxwell jurors find sufficient only four alleged victims testifying in this surprisingly abbreviated trial? Will they care about crimes committed long ago? Will they wonder why they didn’t see more videos?

TODAY’S UNDERWRITER

Regardless of the verdict, increased scrutiny of systemic sexual abuse is important. Epstein pal Prince Andrew (Duke of York) finally faces consequences under New York’s “look-back window law.” 

Colorado’s terrific new similar statute, effective Jan. 1, 2022, allows lawsuits against perpetrators from long ago. Victims can soon seek justice against businesses, schools, churches and other organizations that enabled abuse, dating back to 1960. Colorado sexual crime victims deserve to be heard. 

Some years are better than others for robins and sparrows. Smaller birds can organize and push back their abusers. There is strength in numbers. Let’s listen carefully as victims emerge finally, singing out about their predator encounters.


Craig Silverman is a former Denver chief deputy DA who also has worked in the media for decades. Craig is columnist at large for The Colorado Sun. He practices law at the Denver law firm of Springer & Steinberg, P.C. and is host of The Craig Silverman Show podcast.


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