Jeffrey Epstein is a predatory sociopath who feeds on vulnerabilities of the young without fear of consequence, says expert
Millionaires like Epstein think they are superior and thus have the right to exploit others for their desires and needs, says Dr. Steven Berkowitz, an expert in child and adolescent psychiatry
Predators like Jeffrey Epstein are sociopaths, who use their privilege to feed on the vulnerabilities of the young and disadvantaged for creating a cycle of abuse without any fear of repercussion, according to an expert. Epstein, a registered sex offender, was arrested on July 6 under new charges for sexually exploiting and abusing dozens of minors girls in multiple locations.
“There are many people who are sexually attracted to teenagers, and most do not act on these attractions. Then there are those who cannot control this attraction and so, they act. This is a perversion. People like Epstein are also sociopaths. They believe that they are superior to others and therefore, have the right to exploit others for their own desires and needs. They often justify their behavior by providing favors, gifts, etc., thereby rationalizing that they are helping these youth who otherwise would have nothing,” Dr. Steven Berkowitz, an expert in child and adolescent psychiatry, told MEA Worldwide (MEAWW).
When asked what makes adult sexual offenders like Epstein commit such abuse repeatedly, Dr. Berkowitz said this could again be described as sociopathic behavior. “They view themselves as superior and thus, entitled. They have a compulsion that they either cannot or have no desire to control. In this case, he (Epstein) had the means to exploit and abuse these young girls without repercussion, thus emboldening this behavior,” explains Dr. Berkowitz, a professor at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
Dr. Joel Dvoskin, a clinical and forensic psychologist, licensed in Arizona and New Mexico, says he cannot comment on what motivated Epstein to abuse minors repeatedly, but in general, adult sex offenders are driven by both “sex and power.”
Describing sexual predators, Dr. Dvoskin - who is certified in forensic psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology - says that it is typical for sexual predators to select their targets or victims based on the predator’s sexual and gender preferences as well as the perceived vulnerability of the victim. “The most obvious reasons for this are the convenience and safety (of the predator), and a wish to avoid detection or accountability. However, there may be other reasons that are idiosyncratic to the predator,” he told MEAWW.
According to the 14-page indictment, between 2002 to 2005, Epstein enticed and recruited minor girls to visit his mansion in Manhattan, New York, and his estate in Palm Beach, Florida, to engage in sex acts with him, after which he would give them hundreds of dollars in cash. To “maintain and increase his supply of victims”, he also paid some of his victims to recruit "additional girls" to be similarly abused by him, says the indictment, which adds that “in this way, Epstein created a vast network of underage victims for him to sexually exploit in locations including New York and Palm Beach.”
The indictment describes that Epstein’s victims, were, for multiple reasons, often particularly vulnerable to exploitation. And experts say there could be a valid reason behind this.
According to Dr. Berkowitz - who has mostly worked with victims from either disadvantaged backgrounds and/or abusive and neglectful families - young people living in poor and often ‘chaotic’ families are particularly vulnerable to being exploited. Their families are often abusive or neglectful, making them seek economic and emotional support from others because they do not receive it at home. These youth are also at a higher risk for substance dependence, and delinquency, and pedophiles have a good intuitive sense of their vulnerabilities, says Dr. Berkowitz. “Pedophiles are well aware of the vulnerabilities of these kids and the fact that they are looking for attention and support from adults. They offer them opportunities and groom them to become objects of gratification,” he told MEAWW.
Dr. Dvoskin says that people with fewer resources are more vulnerable to exploitation in multiple ways, which includes both financial and sexual exploitation. “Their vulnerability is due to a combination of factors, including but not limited to fewer financial resources, less knowledge of their legal rights, no ability to be protected by an attorney, more dangerous neighborhoods, etc. Further, people with fewer resources are less likely to report crimes, because they may have had negative experiences with police and government agencies,” he explains.
Both experts believe that the American justice system has a larger role to play in cases that involve influential people who are being accused of serious crimes, to protect vulnerable victims. “In general, we can do a much better job of supporting children and their families by providing more opportunities and support to make them less vulnerable to being exploited. We need a justice system that recognizes the inordinate damage that such abuse can cause. Our system is understandably focused on ensuring the rights of the accused, but the balance is too extreme. Victims are afraid to come forward, especially when the accused is rich and powerful,” says Dr. Berkowitz.
According to Dr. Dvoskin, a plethora of research has demonstrated that America’s criminal justice system ‘inexcusably’ treats people very differently based on wealth, class, skin color, language, and religion. “Simply put, if one can afford an expensive attorney, they will get a much better deal. It makes sense that extremely wealthy people might expect to be treated differently and better than people of color and/or poverty, even when they have committed the same crimes," says Dr. Dvoskin.
America has not made a priority of protecting its children, he says, adding that this failure plays out in multiple ways. “For example, child protective services tend to be understaffed, and their workers are underpaid and overworked. Children in many states do not even have lawyers representing them when they have been abused. Instead, they are provided with a CASA (court-appointed special advocate) volunteer, who has none of the powers typically assigned to an attorney. Further, sexual predators who choose their victims wisely have been repeatedly told that they will be protected from criminal sanctions so long as they have the protection of wealth, their church, or other powerful forces,” Dr. Dvoskin told MEAWW.