Jeffrey Epstein, the New York financier, managed to evade federal prosecution a decade ago in a Florida sex case involving dozens of teenage girls, in part by agreeing to register as a sex offender. But for a man with many residences, and many high-powered lawyers, registering as a sex offender was not the blanket penalty it might seem.
He did register in Florida, where he pleaded guilty to two state felony charges. But in New York, where he owns one of Manhattan’s most expensive mansions, he managed to avoid check-ins with the authorities by changing his official residence to the Virgin Islands. And in New Mexico, where he owned a palatial residence south of Santa Fe, he was able to avoid inclusion in the state’s registry entirely.
That state’s relatively cursory investigation took into account only a police report which indicated, the authorities said, that the underage victim in the case to which Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty in 2010 was 17 — the age of consent in New Mexico — though the girl whose report launched the investigation against him was just 14.
The nearly decade-long, multi-jurisdiction case against Mr. Epstein highlights the complexities in one of the signature federal laws to come out of a series of horrific child rapes and murders in the 1980s and 1990s — a 1994 federal statute that requires all 50 states to implement sex offender registries and, separately, adopt some form of community reporting on the whereabouts of those who have committed serious sex crimes.