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article imageOp-Ed: Virginia Roberts underage sex allegations — Media fails basic checks

By Paul Wallis     Jan 5, 2015 in Crime
Sydney - The claims made by Virginia Roberts regarding her alleged abuse as a minor should be heard by a court, not by a media lynch mob. The trouble is that this very confusing story is sending some very confusing messages, denials, and much more.
Media reporting isn’t helping much, with every word by every party being faithfully relayed, denied, or “reported” endlessly. This story isn’t exactly simple to begin with, whoever you believe, and it gets more complex almost by every sentence.
For example, the Sydney Morning Herald reports this series of events:
Ms Roberts was 15 years old and working as a changing room assistant at Donald Trump's palatial country club called Mar-A-Lago when she became a travelling masseuse to Mr Epstein. For four years he had sex with her and "gave" her to his powerful friends, she claimed in court documents filed at the end of December.
…The Californian-born blonde made her escape from Mr Epstein's employment when, for her 19th birthday, he enrolled her in a massage course.
Follow the tangled tales
She was 15, according to this report, when she made contact with Epstein. She was supposedly with him for three years, according to her, and for some reason he enrolled her as a masseuse a year after she “escaped”? Other reports say she was associated with Epstein between the ages of 15 and 17? There are various issues with the timeline of alleged events, and it doesn't read like a bus schedule.
Meanwhile, Epstein has a long record of alleged issues and settled claims with other girls, according to current reports. Whatever the facts of Mr Epstein’s case, however, there’s another issue to be addressed: How did these girls get in to these situations? Where were their parents, responsible adults, etc.? He sees a kid working as a changing room assistant, thinks “What a great traveling masseuse she’d be,” and years later, we get these headlines?
It’s not quite as naïve a question as it may seem. According to one story, Ms. Roberts was quoted as saying she was “paid £10,000 to have sex with Prince Andrew.” Doesn’t quite sound like most people’s idea of slavery, does it? Call it what you will, where does slavery stop and business begin? For that matter, whose business? Seems relevant, doesn't it, particularly in an underage sex case?
To believe or not to believe - Too easy, either way
There are too many inconsistencies coming from all directions on both sides of this story. There’s another side, too, and it’s much less impressive. Tired as the world is of so many quasi-perverted celebrities of all shapes and sizes, this constant media spectacle is effectively now an industry. Hardly a day goes by without some celebrity getting accused of some sex crime or some other thing.
It’s no coincidence, either — one of the oldest tricks in the book is blackmailing celebrities. It’s bigger than Ludo and stamp collecting combined, and significantly more profitable. Isn’t it getting just a bit too coincidental that so many people’s names are getting sprayed all over the world? What if these people won’t pay? Generate a few headlines, guys, and see what falls over.
Bottomless standards
From the tangled tales related to Roberts and Epstein, the mixed dates, statements and times, and the messy issue management so far, I think we can say that this is the new black for media editorial standards. These allegations belong in a court, with proper fact checking. Every load of garbage, however, is now being faithfully being relayed to the public as if it was fact.
God knows, nobody expects modern media to be able to tell day from night. Today’s media shouldn’t be expected to tell the difference between a £10,000 one night stand and sex slavery. It’d give them intellectual hernias. They shouldn’t have to consider the possible motives for the basis of attacks on very rich people.
They certainly shouldn’t have to try to figure out the possible issues related to swiping some 15-year-old for years with no apparent complaints from anyone until decades later. That’d be too much like thinking, wouldn’t it, and we all know that working in media and even claiming to think is illegal.
Who’s sleazier than what, or whom, is up to the courts to decide. The pity of it is that the public can’t claim damages for having to put up with all the disinformation and stories made of holes.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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