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Ask about Jeffrey Epstein on St. Thomas and rooms go quiet. Some people leave. Those who share stories speak in barely audible tones.
The 66-year-old billionaire bought Little St. James Island off this U.S. Caribbean territory more than two decades ago and began to transform it - clearing the native vegetation, ringing the property with towering palm trees and planting two massive U.S. flags on either end.
Guides - Scuba - Divers - Island - Security
When guides took scuba divers to spots near the island, security guards would walk to the water's edge.
It was off-putting to residents of St. Thomas - a lush tropical island east of Puerto Rico with winding roads through mountains dotted with dainty Danish colonial-era homes.
Epstein - Minor - Prostitution - Need - Privacy
Then, when Epstein pleaded guilty in a 2008 to soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution, his need for privacy began to appear more sinister.
'Everybody called it 'Pedophile Island,'' said Kevin Goodrich, who is from St. Thomas and operates boat charters. 'It's our dark corner.'
People - Epstein - Associated - Press - Week
Many people who worked for Epstein told The Associated Press this week that they had signed long non-disclosure agreements and refused to talk.
One former employee who declined to be identified said Epstein once had five boats, including a large ferry in which he transported up to 200 workers from St. Thomas to his island every day for construction work.
Man - Handful - Women - Epstein - Property
The man said he saw a handful of young women when he was on Epstein's property but he believed they were older than 18.
'When he was there, it was keep to yourself and do your thing,' the man recalled, adding that Epstein paid well and would give away older machinery and surplus including lumber to his employees.
Epstein - Stone - Mansion - Walls - Turquoise
Epstein built a stone mansion with cream-colored walls and a bright turquoise roof surrounded by several other structures including the maids' quarters and a massive, square-shaped white building on one...
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