Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sex-Offenders Can Now Access Victims' Medical Records?

This should have been just another story of girl sues boy for sexual assault.

Multimillionaire Jeffery Epstein is being sued by women alleging he paid them to give him massages (while nude) when they were as young as 14. Some of the women also reported being sexually assaulted by Epstein.

To defend his client's irreparable emotional damage to these ladies, Epstein's lawyer is digging through their painful memories and (better yet) their medical records. The judge on the case, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Donald Hafele, decided this was totally OK. He agreed that the lawyers could subpoena the women's abortion records... as long as the women had priorly been questioned about their abortion history.

This precedent could mean you have to wave goodbye to your right to privacy. Also, these lawyers are trying to win this case by arguing that if you have had a traumatic life event, you can't suffer further psychological damage from being sexually assaulted by an adult when you are 14. I have just one question: Why are the victims on trial here?

For clarity, this is the civil suit following his criminal conviction and incarceration.

Hat tip to V.M. for sending me this link.


  1. This one's so loaded, I'll let someone else comment first.

  2. it sucks because there is no good way to respond when asked if the three abortions they had in the past were more traumatizing then the nude massages. if they say the abortions weren't traumatizing then they look like baby-killing sluts, and if they say it was traumatizing then this lawyer is arguing that the nude massages/ sexual assault couldn't have been that traumatizing since these girls have had abortions that were more traumatizing.

  3. I agree, there's some despicable stuff being done by the defendant here (in and out of court), and the right to privacy is being undermined (I think [hope!] this will probably be corrected by another court.)

    However, it sounds like this case is really about money, and that unnerves me a little. If you're assaulted by a billionaire you deserve a cool $5 mil? This dude is up to his eyeballs in slime though (Ponzi scheme!, so I will feel no sympathy if he loses it all.

  4. One's medical records have no bearing in a case like this. I agree with mongoose6. It would be criminal for this judges decision to not be overturned. Having an abortion is not necessarily a traumatic experience. The dicision can be arrived at easily by well informed women. It is an option for a woman's life that only she can and should make for herself. Politics and religion make this a highly charged issue when in reality, it is an individual's choice. That choice should never be used against someone. Sexual assault cannot be compared to the range of emotions a woman may experience when going through an abortion. In the case of assault a woman has NO control over what is happening to her. This is not the case in having an abortion. Bottom line: medical records are private and should not be used in the trial. Also, there is no comparison between having an abortion and getting sexually assaulted. If I were the judge in this case I would throw out the argument without hesitation.

  5. So let me get this straight; This girl is saying that she was more traumatized by giving a nude massage and a handjob to a rich, old, white guy for money, than the abortions she had following the unprotected sex she had with some other guy (who I'm assuming has waaaaay less money than the one she's suing). If she was so traumatized by this rich guy, why isn't she suing the other guy(s) for knocking her up? Could it be that this case is about money, and nothing else?

  6. She is suing this guy because her intimate encounters with him were not consensual. This is not a discussion of any other time she has chosen to have sex. The times she had an abortion are unrelated to this specific case. He forced her into something she did not want to do, hence, she is suing him.

  7. Mad Dr, I believe she wanted to do it, otherwise I don't think she would have done it over 50 to 100 times, or recruited other girls for the same thing. I also don't think anyone forced these girls to fly all over the world on his expense for the purpose of being "traumatized". At the time, this dirtbag pervert was their best option to get by, and now that the well has run dry, it seems they're after more money, bottom line. Rationalize it any way you want, its ALL about the money, and if you think otherwise you're being naive.

  8. apostolos: does your comment indicate that you think minors are fully able to make decisions in their best interests, and therefore statutory rape should not be considered a crime? Would any of our other commentators like to tackle this?

  9. Coca Colo, my comment doesn't indicate that at all; don't make broad assumptions. The women were right, he lost in criminal court. Now they're trying to make him pay in civil court, because they claim HE (and not their past experiences/boyfriends/abusers) was responsible for their current emotional state.

    For his crime he was (rightfully) sentenced to jail, is a registered sex offender, and probably lost the respect of everyone he knew or will meet in the future, except perverts. Well deserved, but price paid. As far as the girl(s) involved and her claim of emotional distress warranting a rich civil suit...I call BS! I have a hard time believing that the one girl specifically cited in the articles was more emotionally distressed by the paid acts of massaging and maybe sex, than her previous acts of having sex (either forced or consensual) and aborting the fetus. I do believe that old man took advantage of some of these girls by using his wealth when they were as young as 14, and he paid a significant price for that crime. Going after him financially is trying to take advantage of the circumstance that he is wealthy and he can pay more than the other guys in the past. Additionally, I just don't agree with the girl because of her attitude and behavior in the past. One girl (wasn't sure if it was the 14 yo) has said that she recruited other girls to go as well, and that she went back 100? times until she was in her twenties? That she said he was a great guy for sending her gifts? Doesn't that seem like the behavior of someone who is consenting to this? Why would she put other girls at such a position to be taken advantage of, if she was "assaulted" by this guy? Sounds like she should be to blame for those girls' emotional distress too, huh?

    To me this is pretty transparent: he is a sleazeball, paid call-girls (some as young as 14) for sexual favors. Girls get older, realize he has money and took advantage of them, hire lawyer to get money. The court case is also pretty simple: in criminal court he was convicted of his crime, paid price. In civil court, girls are claiming he is solely responsible for their emotional state and he claims that their fucked-up past is responsible.

    Coca Colo, do you still think this case is as simple as you stated, that they were minors and were raped and therefore be paid? I take some offense that you would solicit other readers to "tackle" the assumption that I think minors can make sound emotional decisions, and statutory rape is not considered a crime.

  10. To Mad Dr: She is suing him because she claims HE alone was responsible for her emotional state, he claims it was her past experience that was responsible for her condition and he already paid his debt to society and shouldn't have to pay her too. If you imply that consent can't be given by a minor, and she was assaulted, I agree and so does the criminal court that sentenced him to jail, etc., but how can you say that her past is not part of the discussion? If she is claiming emotional distress and assault for his actions toward her, doesn't her past have to reflect that those actions would have been so out of the ordinary that they would have traumatized her scarred for life? I would agree with that if she was never exposed to these acts, but it doesn't appear that it was anything out of the ordinary for her (which is unfortunate, but true). When trying to establish the type of behavior or actions that would traumatize someone, don't you have to show that it would have to be very different and extreme from the things she experienced in the past? I doubt very many soldiers would be traumatized by a street shooting after experiencing much worse conditions in battle, I hope you get my point.

    As far as him forcing her? Convincing, or tricking her (since she's just a dumb minor and can't make decisions) is more accurate. I also have a hard time believing that she was so naive. I mean, she brought other girls to this guy! She went on trips on his private jet, went back for more, and even thanked him for gifts. Sounds like a savvy girl who knows how to milk it.

    I find it ironic that some very educated, fine hard-working ladies are sticking up for a girl who would rather sue and never work a day in her life, rather than take responsibility for her actions and realize we all make mistakes in life (giving nude massages/sex for money) and she was a party to that crime as well. Sleazeball paid his price, and if this girl is going to bring up these charges in civil court she has to be prepared to answer the tough questions, like, how can you be traumatized by the nude massages, but not your previous experiences?

  11. To Thefreespirit: I think the medical record/past does have a bearing on such a case. I'll give you a hypothetical case, let me know if its comparable.

    A guy and his girlfriend break up after they get in a fight and he assaults her. She takes him to court, he gets locked up. In civil court she sues him for the emotional distress he has caused her by being abusive, giving her an STD and not disclosing his previous condition, cheating, etc. Don't you think the accused has a right to prove he didn't give the STD to her by proving through her medical records that she had it prior to meeting him?

    What about this one: A doctor gets sued for medical malpractice for a treatment gone awry, doesn't he have the right to check medical records to see if the patient had a previous undisclosed condition that might have led the doctor to an alternate treatment?

    In this case, I think the past is incredibly important to establishing the type of behavior that would traumatize the girl, as I commented earlier.

  12. apostolos, The American Medical Association defines child sexual abuse as "the engagement of a child in sexual activities for which the child is developmentally unprepared and cannot give informed consent. Child sexual abuse is characterized by deception, force or coercion.”

    As minors, these girls are not even legally able to consent to sex with an adult. These laws exist not only because as teenagers they are not mature enough to fully understand the consequences of the actions, but also because they are economically, socially, and financially unequal to adults, giving adults a power advantage. These girls didn’t make a mistake. They were victimized. There is no crime they committed.

    Superficially, there are two ways these cases have unfolded:

    1. The perpetrator’s actions emotionally damage a girl in a way that she begins to make decisions the lawyers are trying to exploit as ‘bad’

    2. Past life events have made a girl more susceptible to the predator

    HE alone is responsible for the trauma she experienced as a result of HIS assault. Her past is not a part of the equation and, accordingly, should not be allowed to be a part of the discussion (the base argument or the post). He chose to take advantage of these girls. Let’s stop use the words ‘claiming’ for the sexual assault. There WAS a sexual assault. Whether through use of force or trickery, the bottom line is an older man exploited an imbalance of age, size, power, and knowledge to get what he wanted from high school students.

    No previous event in one’s past makes a new incidence of sexual assault ‘normal’ and ‘undamaging’. Each new event has a negative effect on the victim. Just because someone has been a punching bag, does not mean we should excuse the next person that follow suit. He violated her. Accordingly, he deserves to be punished for his actions.

    There are many reason girls may have returned, from the perceived relationship victims believe they developed with their abuser to the financial incentives he was providing (FYI prostitution of a minor is classified as child sexual abuse). He probably spent time developing a relationship with the girls before he began to pay and abuse them. Predators often look for people who have lowered self-esteems because they are easier to manipulate.

    The money from a civil suit is payment for the resulting reduction in their quality of life. The emotional fallout from sexual abuse as a child has drastic negative impacts, including depression. Frequently, without appropriate intervention to reduce the damage of childhood assault, victims will be held back from reaching their full potential and maximal earnings. Therefore, I view it as payment to compensate for a woman’s reduced ability to function in society. She should take the money, take time off from work, and get proper treatment. Proper treatment is expensive.

    I hope this information helps!

  13. I like the points you make, Md Dr, but it makes me uneasy that one of the victims is suing for $50 million. That amount of money is way beyond mere compensation for "a woman’s reduced ability to function in society." $50 million is enough to live luxuriously for the rest of her life, and she's still a teenager. If Epstein weren't a billionaire, the case would look very different.

    However, maybe that's just the price of being rich: you pay your way out of hard jail time (he only got 18 months on a reduced charge) but the victims can get great representation to soak you.

  14. Mad Dr, I agree with many of your points, especially that he indeed took advantage of them, and that he should pay a price. He is a sexual deviant, a pervert, and sex offender. For that he paid his debt to society by serving time, being a registered sex offender,etc. We differ in our belief that the girls' emotional distress was caused solely by his actions, or by their past experiences as well as his actions. It is extremely important to know what type of past experiences she had before someone could determine whether or not nude massages, sexual favors, and exotic trips on private jets warranted a $50 million, or even $5 million lawsuit.

    I also agree that the girls should be able to receive treatment for their emotional distress, that should be paid out of Epstein's pocket, but don't you think $50 million is so excessive that it renders the one girl's motives completely transparent? Or are you trying to say that this girl's earning potential prior to meeting Epstein would approach the millions? If the goal is to restore the quality of life for the victims, get them treatment. I doubt any therapy costs $50 mil.

    Another point that I totally disagree with is the fact that past experiences have no bearing on the emotional distress caused by new experiences. Why would armed forces simulate the live combat if they felt the soldiers would not develop a tolerance for it, and therefore be less traumatized in a warzone? I'm not trying to say that these girls were trained to tolerate sexual abuse, but don't you think by the time this girl had an abortion, nude massages were routine? I've known a fair number of girls that were having sex at 14, and almost all of my female friends were having sex at 18, so the trauma factor of nude massages and paid sex, gifts and trips, doesn't sound convincing. I also don't know how many of the girls were 14, but at 14 I was pretty sure that getting money for nude massages and sex were wrong, and if chose to do it, I would be making a stupid mistake.

    Anyway, as the previous poster stated, $50 mil is ridicoulous and unfair. I say he gets them counseling for a few years, and the one girl drops the innocent victim act, because to me her actions and behavior don't corroberate her claims of emotional distress, and she is also culpable in this case.

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  16. He didn't actually pay his debt to society because he didn't actually serve anywhere near the average length of time for sexual assault which is over 10 years.

    Even if we knew the specifics of her life that does not give us a mathematical way to calculate the impact of an assault. People respond in different ways to the same events, as is their right. The same thing could happen to her twice and she could have the same emotional impact each time, with one just sinking her even further into mental illness.

    There is a different from being coerced into a sexual situation and choosing to have one. What seems run of the mill to some people when they are 30 can have detrimental effects on a 14 year old who has never experienced those things.

    I'm saying it's a combination in loss of earnings and her need for treatment and all of the effects it has had on her life as far as possible physical health effects and impacts on her ability to have a normal relationship. Maybe ALL rape victims deserve $50 million, but most perpetrators can't pay. How do you put a price on what sexual abuse or assault does to you?

  17. Mad Dr, this might be a case of agreeing to disagree. I've read the affidavit on the investigation of Epstein, and nowhere did I come across anything that seemed it would scar these girls enough to warrant a million dollar lawsuit, and the acts perpetrated by Epstein are nothing that promiscuous teenagers haven't already done on their own. I would consider myself extremely naive if I believed these girls were irreparably damaged by massages in thongs that included use of vibrators and lotions. Only one case in my mind, do I consider forcible intercourse that would constitute rape (in which case Epstein discontinued when told to stop by the "masseuse"). In EVERY other case, these girls knew EXACTLY what was going to happen, and depending on their level of comfort, these girls would go back again and again, and also bring a couple of recruits.

    Something that has not been discussed at all in this case though, is whether the primary recruiter is also implicated in this crime. After all, wasn't it one of the high-school girls that brought the entire female population of that school to Epstein's house for "work"?

    Its not my intent to defend this dirt-bag, but I have dated a girl for several years in the past who I would consider a victim of sexual assault, and I can tell you that her experiences were devastating compared to what these girls had to endure. I just can't imagine that girl taking pity on them after the genuine trauma that she experienced as a child. I think what these "victims" classify as sexual assault would be considered nothing more than bad decisions made by young people who really needed quick cash. In fact, the only reason why these actions are considered assault is because a couple of the girls were 14 when they started, and a few were 16. Unlawful and criminal, but when trying to determine the monetary award (if any) in a civil case such as this, don't you think its important to know what experiences these girls had before you deem his actions as emotionally distressing? How can you say that a nude massage or sex with a boyfriend is not comparable to nude massages and sex with Epstein? Just because he is older and richer, doesn't mean that he should pay, and the boyfriends (some of which I'm sure were over 18) are not responsible for the emotional distress they caused the girls. As one girl stated, "I knew it was wrong, I felt uncomfortable so I never went back", after giving Epstein a massage in her bra and thong while he masturbated.

    This case is transparent. These girls are trying to say that what they've been doing for several years (sex, abortions, etc.) wasn't emotionally distressing until they had to do it on a rich, old guy. To me it reeks of litigiousness driven by a monetary reward. If teenage girls need counseling and therapy costing $50 million dollars for a massage in thongs, what do we do with real victims of sexual assault?

  18. wow--so much to say, so little time.....
    First, "debt to society" bah, humbug. This guy took advantage of minors in a sexual way. "Society" is not dealing with shame and guilt. Society did not get sexualized too early just because she knew money was a good thing to get and was enticed into doing something above her years to get it. How much of a settlement is too much? Let a jury decide. These things have a way of working themselves out.
    As far as medical records, caveat emptor......if you use insurance to pay for a medical service, the HIPPAA act allows for the information to become part of a database and Privacy, despite a morass of regulations, gives way to Portability. These medical files are incredibly difficult to protect.
    When it comes to admissability and relevance of one's past in a current lawsuit, courts all too often to allow history to be presented, but often, it is relevant to susceptability rather than freeing the accused from responsibility. The fact that there is a trauma history makes one more likely to be traumatized by a new occurrence, but does not exempt the perpetrator from guilt for taking advantage of this fact.


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