INTERLOCHEN — Interlochen Center for the Arts acknowledged its history with Jeffrey Epstein after a new set of sex trafficking charges against the famous financier spurred revelations about his connections to the exclusive fine arts school.
“As has been widely reported, financier Jeffrey Epstein was arrested on federal charges of sex trafficking last Saturday. Previous to a prior indictment in 2007 on related charges, Epstein had ties to Interlochen, which I want to share with you,” wrote Trey Devey, the center’s president in a statement published on the institution’s website.
Online news organization The Daily Beast on Thursday published an article that linked entries in Epstein’s “infamous Little Black Book” about Interlochen — misspelled in handwritten print as “Interlaken” — to donations he made to the northern Michigan fine arts school and camp in the 1990s.
Devey said in his statement that Interlochen staff conducted a comprehensive records review to uncover all of Epstein’s connections to the institution.
Devey wrote that Epstein attended camp at Interlochen in the summer 1967 and was a donor from 1990 to 2003. His largest gift was to fund a new cabin on campus named The Epstein Lodge, for which rental proceeds benefited scholarships.
Records showed Epstein stayed on campus in his namesake lodge for a week in August 2000, Devey wrote.
“Interlochen has no record of him staying there beyond that one week. We have no record of any complaint ever made about Epstein at Interlochen. It was and remains our policy that he would not have been permitted unsupervised access to students,” Devey’s statement reads.
Years after that stay at the Interlochen campus, Epstein was arrested in 2007 in Florida and convicted of a sex offense through a plea deal.
“When Interlochen administration learned of his conviction in Florida, the cabin was renamed ‘The Green Lake Lodge,’ and all tangible donor recognition for Epstein was removed from campus,” Devey wrote.
“His last gift was made in 2003 and there is no record that Interlochen had any contact with him following his arrest in 2007,” Devey’s statement continued.
A once-secret agreement allowed Epstein to avoid a potentially lengthy prison sentence nearly a decade ago in a case involving nearly identical allegations of sexually abusing underage girls.
Epstein pleaded guilty to lesser state charges and spent 13 months in jail. That plea deal was supposed to protect Epstein from federal prosecution, his lawyers say. They argue new federal charges should be dismissed.
They were brought by federal prosecutors in New York, who say the Florida deal does not apply to them. They said the new charges overlap with the earlier case but include new allegations and victims from New York.
In the decade since striking that Florida plea deal, Epstein has sought to underwrite all manner of youth causes, such as a baseball program near his retreat in the U.S. Virgin Islands and an all-girls’ school a few blocks from his Manhattan mansion.
The Associated Press found that the wealthy financier’s donations included $15,000 to the exclusive Hewitt School on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, $35,000 to the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Maryland, and $25,000 to the Ecole du Bel-Air grade school in Haiti — all after he pleaded guilty in 2008 to charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution.
Epstein’s donations through his charitable foundations, though not in violation of his status as a sex offender, were nonetheless awkward for some recipients. They were also, at times, difficult to trace.
It wasn’t until later, when they realized a sex offender was behind the donations, that the school, the tennis center and the Haiti project returned the money.