Jeffrey Epstein was a collector. He collected, by which I mean sequestered, exploited, and sexually assaulted, a large number of teenage girls. He also collected, by which I mean feted and flattered and befriended, many prominent and well-educated men. These included numerous scientists, whose approval the intellectually-insecure Epstein craved. Social networks in the hard sciences often interconnected with those in Greater Geekdom, and JE’s male acquaintances included science fiction writers. One of these, Greg Bear, recently admitted that he had socialized a bit with Epstein, having attended a conference the rape-meister sponsored in 2011. He recalled realizing something was amiss shortly after meeting his host: the financier was surrounded by attractive young women who seemed personally or economically dependent on him, and who did not socialize with the other guests. Bear later made a comment about “Dracula coming down out of his castle to ravage the young woman of the village.” Epstein, who overheard the remark, did not invite him back.
Bear reports that an old friend who knew Epstein had reassured him, prior to his own departure for the Caribbean, that JE was a safe acquaintance despite his 2008 conviction as a sex offender: “The man who did the things the press reported is not the person I’ve experienced.” While the author does not identify his friend, I strongly suspect that it was Gregory Benford, the physicist and sci-fi writer. The two traveled in the same scientifictional circles, and Benford had received grant money from Epstein’s science foundation.* Both belong to the same social category as most Grand Old Men of Sci-Fi: white, male, and encased in bubbles of privilege and politesse that made hobnobbing with a billionaire vampire seem normal, and questioning the background and agency of his female entourage seem impolite.
|Jeffrey Epstein and Marvin Minsky, ca. 2000.|
* A 2012 press release from the Epstein Foundation identifies Benford as a featured guest at one of JE's conferences, so the author almost certainly met his benefactor.