In the fall of 2002, Vicky Ward was conducting research for an upcoming Vanity Fair article she was penning. Her subject: the "high-flying" and mysteriously wealthy Jeffrey Epstein, now a convicted sex offender recently tied to accusations that Prince Andrew had sex with an underage girl. Yesterday Ward published an article in the Daily Beast entitled "I Tried to Warn You About Sleazy Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein in 2003," claiming she had included bombshell allegations in the Vanity Fair draft from a 16-year-old girl and her older sister that Epstein had tried to seduce them—and that VF editor Graydon Carter ended up taking those allegations out, telling Ward, "[Epstein's] sensitive about the young women." She also said he added, "I believe him … I'm Canadian." The girls and their mom told Ward that Epstein had earned their trust and promised to financially help the older sister in her artistic pursuits.
After the alleged seduction attempts, the family was scared Epstein would make them "look ridiculous" and maybe "hurt them," Ward says the mom told her. Epstein "went into overdrive" when he heard the charges, Ward adds, attacking her and her sources, showing up at VF's offices, and constantly calling Carter and Ward. "Just the mention of a 16-year-old girl … carries the wrong impression. I don't see what it adds to the piece. And that makes me unhappy," he reportedly said in one call. When Carter was asked via email yesterday by the Daily Beast why he nixed the girls' accounts, a VF spokeswoman responded, "Epstein denied the charges at the time, and since the claims were unsubstantiated and no criminal investigation had been initiated, we decided not to include them in what was a financial story." (Click for Ward's full piece, including something Epstein said to her that creeped her out.)