Financier Epstein, charged with sex trafficking, has ties to Interlochen

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman announces Monday, July 8, 2019, sex trafficking and conspiracy charges against wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Registered sex offender and financier Jeffrey Epstein, who faces federal charges of sex trafficking minors, has ties to Michigan.

The Daily Beast reports that Epstein, 66, of New York spent time at a summer camp at the Interlochen Center for the Arts located in the woods of northern Michigan in 1967, and also was a donor to the fine arts boarding school and camp as an adult. The “Jeffrey Epstein Scholarship Lodge” was established on campus.

Epstein was listed as a donor to Interlochen in school newsletters from 1990 to 1999, according to the Daily Beast. Katharine Laidlaw, Interlochen’s vice president of strategic communications and engagement, told the Daily Beast that Epstein’s lifetime giving to the institution was less than $500,000.

An Interlochen newsletter from the time stated, “... the Epstein Lodge is a gift to the center from Jeffrey Epstein, a businessman from New York and a former Interlochen camper.”

Laidlaw also told The Daily Beast his course of study at the camp was bassoon/orchestra/radio. She said Epstein is no longer an Interlochen donor, and that his last gift was in 2003.

“After the administration learned of his conviction, Interlochen discontinued contact with Mr. Epstein and removed all donor recognition with his name,” Laidlaw told the news outlet in an email, referring to his 2007 plea to soliciting underage girls in Florida.

The indictment filed in New York accuses Epstein of paying underage girls hundreds of dollars in cash for massages and then molesting them at his homes in Palm Beach, Florida, and New York from 2002 through 2005. The charges carry the potential for up to 45 years in prison.

Epstein pleaded guilty to state charges in Florida, served a 13-month jail sentence during which he was allowed to leave jail for work purposes, and registered as a sex offender.

The once-secret agreement with federal prosecutors in Florida has been widely criticized as a sweetheart deal. The criticism has fallen heavily on Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, who was the U.S. attorney in Miami at the time of the agreement. Acosta resigned his Trump administration post Friday.

Laidlaw said Interlochen has no record of any complaint against Epstein, and that the school’s “policies would not have permitted Mr. Epstein any unsupervised access to students.”

She also said Interlochen records show Epstein stayed at that lodge for a week in August 2000.

“Per the funding agreement, he was permitted to use the lodge for up to two weeks per year. Interlochen has no record of any other use by him beyond that one week in August 2000,” Laidlaw said in an email.

Laidlaw has not responded to phone calls or an email from The Detroit News.

The Associated Press contributed