Juliette Bryant was at a Cape Town cocktail lounge with a friend when an associate of Jeffrey Epstein approached her. “This guy is bothering me,” the woman, an American actress named Naja Hill, told them that night in September 2002. “Can I hang out with you guys?”
Bryant, who had just turned 20, understood that women must look out for one another and welcomed the beautiful stranger to join them. When Hill learned Bryant was an aspiring model, she suggested they find her “billionaire” friend Jeffrey, who she falsely claimed was the owner of Victoria’s Secret and could jump-start Bryant’s career.
Hill, who had emphasized Epstein’s celebrity contacts, shared that the financier was currently at a chic restaurant nearby with none other than former President Bill Clinton, and actors Kevin Spacey and Chris Tucker. She asked Bryant if she’d like to meet them. Bryant and Hill then hopped in a car, giddy at the opportunity to make their acquaintance.
“I was a silly young 20-year-old and thought it sounded like such an amazing opportunity considering the people he was here with,” Bryant told The Daily Beast, in her first in-depth media interview about surviving Epstein’s sex ring. She also spoke to BBC Two for its new series about Epstein’s former girlfriend and now-convicted accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell. The show, House of Maxwell, premiered on Monday.
“That’s what gave Epstein credibility,” Bryant added. “The fact that he was with Clinton.”
According to Bryant, when she arrived at the restaurant, Clinton stood up to shake her hand and didn’t let go, even when he began speaking to someone else. “He just kept holding onto my hand,” Bryant told us. “It was like a dream. It was so bizarre.”
She would also see the famous Democrat again the next day, after Hill invited her to join their entourage and show Epstein her modeling portfolio.
Bryant crossed paths with Clinton and Epstein as they toured Africa on a high-profile humanitarian trip, during which the former president, his Secret Service team, and others flew aboard Epstein’s private jet dubbed the “Lolita Express.” Clinton has not spoken publicly about this journey or his multiple other flights with Epstein aside from a 2019 statement which claimed he knew “nothing” about the late sex offender’s “terrible crimes.”
Hill did not return messages left by The Daily Beast, nor did reps for Tucker and Spacey. Angel Ureña, a spokesman for Clinton, referred us the previous statement, which read:
“President Clinton knows nothing about the serious crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those with which he has been recently charged in New York. In 2002 and 2003, President Clinton took a total of four trips on Jeffrey Epstein’s airplane: one to Europe, one to Asia, and two to Africa, which included stops in connection with the work of the Clinton Foundation. Staff, supporters of the Foundation, and his Secret Service detail traveled on every leg of every trip. He had one meeting with Epstein in his Harlem office in 2002, and around the same time made one brief visit to Epstein’s New York apartment with a staff member and his security detail. He’s not spoken to Epstein in well over a decade, and has never been to Little St. James Island, Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico, or his residence in Florida.”
“Epstein always had platters because I think he was scared of being poisoned. There were platters of food for everyone, and he’d pick off other people’s plates. It was weird.”
Epstein ensnared Bryant in his trafficking scheme not long after this Cape Town rendezvous under the guise of offering her modeling jobs in the U.S.
But moments after she set foot on American soil, Bryant was whisked off to the money manager’s home in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where he raped her repeatedly over two weeks before taking her to Palm Beach to continue to the assaults. The sexual abuse would continue at Epstein’s homes around the globe until 2004.
“I was completely conned,” Bryant said. “I wouldn’t go with some random man to the Caribbean. He seemed legitimate. Clinton gave him credibility.”
Now a mother and business owner in South Africa, Bryant says she is coming forward to stand up for victims of trafficking worldwide, and to contribute her own pieces to the jigsaw that is Epstein’s mysterious network. Lately she wonders why Epstein’s prominent friends like Clinton aren’t under further scrutiny, or why his assistants like Sarah Kellen, who allegedly sent her to Epstein’s room to be abused, aren’t facing criminal charges.
In late 2019, Bryant filed a lawsuit against Epstein’s estate which alleged the financier raped her repeatedly for years at his homes in Paris, Palm Beach, and New York, as well as at his compound in New Mexico and private isle in the U.S. Virgin Islands. (She settled with the Epstein Victims’ Compensation Program a year later.)
“I want to back up the other girls,” Bryant told us. “I want to move on with my life, but I can’t. I was a witness to it. Every piece of the puzzle matters, no matter how small the piece.”
Those details, Bryant says, are still fresh in her mind. Twenty years later, she has more questions than answers. And she believes that Epstein and Maxwell were more powerful and dangerous than people could ever imagine.
“Every day is still hard,” she said. “I don’t feel OK a lot of the time. But I’m just grateful to be where I am and to be alive.”
“Epstein was so clever he made everyone feel like it was their fault,” she added. “People need to realize that this man was so evil and capable of so much.”
When Bryant met Clinton and Epstein, she got the impression the men were close—or at least friendly enough to apparently share a suite at the luxurious Cape Grace, a 5-star hotel on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.
“Jeffrey really liked you,” Hill told her on the phone the next day. “Can you come to the hotel and show him your modeling book?” Hill informed her that Clinton was also giving a speech that day at a local university of technology and invited her along. Bryant joined the group’s motorcade, which included a police escort, sitting in the back of a van with a Clinton adviser.
Bryant remembers Spacey—whom more than a dozen men would later accuse of sexual abuse and harassment—filming some of Clinton’s remarks and the audience using what appeared to be a digital camera. Spacey, she said, was standoffish and “thought we were a bit of a nuisance,” while Tucker was friendly but didn’t interact with her very much. (In her lawsuit, the influential trio is described only as “a former high U.S. Government official, a famous actor, and a well-known comedian.”)
When the speech ended, Bryant says, all returned to Cape Grace and she grabbed her modeling book from the car. She was told her “casting” would be in Epstein’s room.
She took the elevator to the suite and met three of Epstein’s female assistants, who she was told worked for the agency Karin Models, in a large sitting room. Bryant remembers encountering Kellen and another young woman in particular. Reached by The Daily Beast, that woman confirmed meeting Bryant during the South Africa trip and said she had recently joined Epstein’s circle, too. She denied ever working for a modeling agency or claiming to work for one.
“You have to realize, leading up to this, I was still very much in the dark,” the woman said of Epstein and Maxwell. “I saw these two wealthy people who were saying, ‘Hey, do you want to come on this trip to Africa with Bill Clinton?’ As someone in their early twenties, all of that sounds really great. You don’t know what’s lying beneath it all.”
Bryant told The Daily Beast she approached the three assistants, who sat at a long table and paged through her portfolio. “While they did that, Clinton walked through the room and said, ‘Hi guys.’ He and Epstein were sharing the presidential suite,” Bryant recalled, adding that Clinton then retired to his own private room in the suite. (Bryant wasn’t the only survivor to meet the former president. Chauntae Davies, then 22 and traveling with Epstein, was photographed giving Clinton a neck massage during the Africa tour.)
Asked whether Clinton and Epstein shared a suite, Ureña said that the former president did not stay in Cape Town following his university event. “Instead, he flew to Johannesburg where he, amongst other things, met with Presidents Mbeki and Mandela,” Ureña said in an email. “Epstein and Maxwell did not travel to Johannesburg.”
The assistants then told Bryant she could proceed to Epstein, who reviewed her portfolio and declared, “You’ve got the most perfect figure I’ve ever seen. You’re perfect for Victoria’s Secret.” While Hill had previously told her Epstein controlled the lingerie company, Epstein informed Bryant that his “best friend” Les Wexner owned it.
“He said he worked for the CIA and was putting her and her family members on a ‘list.’”
“I was so excited, because my family was struggling financially,” Bryant told us. “I thought I was going to make a difference for my family. I’d been praying for something good to happen, and thought, ‘Oh my God. My dreams are coming true.’”
Epstein and his traveling companions left the country that day. Soon after, his longtime assistant Lesley Groff called Bryant to set up her upcoming trip to New York. Bryant hardly had any funds, she says, so Epstein offered to cover her travel costs and deduct them from her future modeling work. Epstein’s employees, she added, arranged for her visa. Groff, through an attorney, denied any wrongdoing in connection to Epstein. “After several years of multiple investigations, prosecutors have not filed any charges against Lesley Groff because, at no time during Lesley’s employment, as part of Epstein’s professional staff, did she ever engage in any misconduct nor have any knowledge of any wrongdoing,” her lawyer Michael Bachner said.
Bryant says she believed she was safe; her mother spoke to Epstein before he purchased her plane ticket and he said he reserved an apartment for her at an East 66th Street building where he housed models, employees, and distinguished friends. “He assured my mother that this would not only be safe but would be a huge, life-changing opportunity for me,” Bryant said.
It was Bryant’s first time out of South Africa. When she got off the plane, she was awestruck by the chauffeur waiting for her with her name printed on a big poster board. “Like for celebrities,” Bryant recalled. “I was like, whoa. I couldn’t believe it.”
Epstein’s driver brought her to the Manhattan apartment, and within minutes of setting down her luggage, the room’s telephone rang. Kellen was on the line and announced, “Pack your things. You’re going to the Caribbean.” Bryant hadn’t slept throughout her 20-hour flight, didn’t have money or a cellphone, and didn’t know what else to do but comply.
She embarked on a flight out of Teterboro with passengers including Epstein and Kellen. When she sat down, Epstein began groping her crotch area in a sexual manner, and Kellen allegedly laughed at her.
Bryant says she immediately realized Epstein wasn’t the benefactor he professed to be but some sort of sexual predator.
“They didn’t put my name on that flight log so if I vanished, my family would think I’m in New York,” Bryant told us. “I think I’d realized by that point that I’d been conned. I realized if I didn’t do what he wanted, my days were numbered. It just completely freaked me out.”
At Epstein’s Virgin Islands lair, Bryant says she was “trapped,” without any means of contact with the outside world. “I started being called to his bedroom,” Bryant said. “He never mentioned modeling again.”
“Epstein used to talk to Clinton on the phone a lot and said he was friends with Fidel Castro.”
Bryant said Kellen started ordering her to Epstein’s room, which was “pitch dark and ice cold,” to be sexually abused three times a day. Her lawsuit details the horrors she experienced: Epstein would use massage devices on her, force her to perform oral sex, and rape her.
During her two-week stay, she witnessed another girl perform oral sex on Epstein as they watched a movie. “I started crying and ran out of there,” Bryant told The Daily Beast.
Epstein transported Bryant to Palm Beach for a week after the Caribbean nightmare.
Before she left Florida, Epstein delivered an ominous warning—he said he worked for the CIA and was putting her and her family members on a “list.” A girl had once accused him of rape, he warned, so he planted drugs in her apartment and had her sent to prison.
“He’s a master manipulator,” Bryant said. “I always felt like he was watching me through my phone or computer. It messed with my head very badly.”
Bryant wasn’t the same when she returned home. She says she began drinking to numb the pain, developed eating disorders, and struggled to feel content. Because Epstein bragged about his political connections, she was terrified of him and believed he was “one of the most powerful people on Earth.” At the time, she didn’t tell a soul about his degrading abuse.
And when he demanded to see her again, she obeyed. Flight records reveal Bryant traveled between New York, the Virgin Islands, Palm Beach, Paris, and Albuquerque with Epstein and his associates.
Bryant estimates she spent about eight weeks with Epstein between 2002 and 2004. In that time, she was forced into sexual servitude and says she witnessed dozens of other girls visit Epstein’s homes and remain on call to service him.
Looking back, Bryant believes she and the other young women in Epstein’s orbit were stuck in a sort of “Stockholm Syndrome.” “We’d all be sitting there and he’d call whichever one he wanted,” Bryant said. “He tried to create jealousy. It was almost Stockholm Syndrome, you start to side with your captor because you’re petrified.”
“Obviously we were raped, molested, but there’s more to it: mind control,” Bryant added. “It was a very difficult situation to be trapped in as such a naive young girl.”
The creepy businessman used every opportunity to flaunt his high-powered friends and appeared to call them a lot, even in his vehicle which had three or four phones. “I heard him talking on the phone about buying a fleet of helicopters for $20 million,” Bryant recalled. “He sat at his desk and on the phone a lot. He wasn’t actually doing work. I don’t know what he was doing. It was more like communicating.”
“Epstein used to talk to Clinton on the phone a lot and said he was friends with Fidel Castro,” Bryant said.
Bryant says Epstein claimed to sometimes work with Clinton. When she asked why Clinton needed to work since he had just been president, Epstein answered that he “needs $1 million a year to pay for daughter’s security because of death threats.”
The decor of Epstein’s home—which included photos of himself, Maxwell, and world leaders—seemed to back up his alleged ties to masters of the universe. Meanwhile, a woman who worked for Epstein for about 15 years told Bryant that she’d served tea to the wealthy pervert and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
Bryant says Epstein also consorted with Hollywood VIPs including director Michael Bay, who she claims visited Epstein’s private island. “He had a bit of a meeting with Epstein,” Bryant recalled. “It didn’t look like they were that close but it looked like a business thing.” An attorney for Bay, however, told The Daily Beast in an email: “Mr. Bay has never been to the Virgin Islands and never dealt with Jeffrey Epstein.”
Maxwell was a name-dropper, too. “I remember one time she came back to Palm Beach and said she’d been at an Oscars party with Ralph Fiennes,” Bryant said. (The English actor’s name is listed in Epstein’s rolodex, along with contact information for his cousin Susannah.)
“I started being called to his bedroom. He never mentioned modeling again.”
In Paris, Bryant stayed at Epstein’s apartment with Maxwell and Kellen, who allegedly forced her to do a nude photoshoot for Epstein. A naked photo of Bryant would later be displayed in the financier’s bathroom there—one of many nude photos of girls that hung throughout his properties like trophies. “I remember walking down the corridor and there were girls who couldn’t even speak English,” Bryant recalled.
“So many other girls I saw there I’ve heard nothing of since,” she said. “Where are they?”
“Ghislaine was there and she was always off with Sarah Kellen,” she added of her stay in France. “I used to think they were lesbians they were so close.”
Bryant said Maxwell was frequently at Epstein’s homes and arranging “massages” for him but that the socialite often ignored her. “She’s a very, very frightening woman,” Bryant said. “You felt scared to even say anything to her.”
On one occasion, she says, Maxwell flew her in a helicopter to Epstein’s Virgin Islands property. “She was terrible. I thought I was going to die. I remember Epstein said she was getting her license, so it was practice,” Bryant said.
“She ran everything,” Bryant added of the British heiress, “and made sure everything was just as Epstein liked it.”
One night at his Manhattan mansion, Bryant opened her bedroom window to climb out onto the balcony and light a cigarette. A security guard for Epstein approached her the next day and told her he noticed the temperature had changed in her quarters. He then guided her to what appeared to be Epstein’s camera room, which contained dozens of TV monitors lined up against a wall. “He said, ‘I just want to show you something,’” Bryant said. “I think he was warning me. He showed me all the cameras.”
The security man informed Bryant he had the exact same setup in his own house in New Jersey and watched the footage 24/7.
From Bryant’s perspective, Epstein seemed paranoid at times. “Epstein always had platters because I think he was scared of being poisoned,” she said. “There were platters of food for everyone, and he’d pick off other people’s plates. It was weird.”
Bryant says that her last trip with Epstein was to New Mexico, where she and another victim accompanied him to the governor’s mansion for a brief visit. There she met then-Governor Bill Richardson, who was listed in Epstein’s infamous “Little Black Book” of society contacts and whose political campaigns received donations from Epstein and his employees.
Her lawsuit doesn’t name Richardson but refers to him as “another important government official,” and states that Bryant “believed that Epstein had brought her there so that the official could look her over.” (Bryant does not accuse Richardson of any misconduct, but Giuffre claims Epstein and Maxwell sent her to the former politician to be abused. Richardson adamantly denies this, and in 2019, his spokeswoman said, “To be clear, in Governor Richardson’s limited interactions with Mr. Epstein, he never saw him in the presence of young or underage girls.”)
“Bill Richardson and another man looked at us and shook our hands and went back into their room where they’d been. It was just so weird,” Bryant said, adding that Epstein “never explained” why they visited Richardson in the first place.
While in New Mexico, Bryant says, Epstein didn’t take her to his bedroom and sexually assault her as he usually did. Instead, he laid her on a table in a small room and pressed her stomach and pelvic area, examining her in the way a doctor would.
She couldn’t shake the feeling something more was going on. “Why else go through so many girls?” she asks now.
Epstein was known to dangle the prospects of paid college tuition or acting and modeling jobs to the multitude of girls and young women he molested.
While Epstein offered Bryant $4,000 a month to work for him, and even more money to recruit new victims, she says he never paid her a dime. Her dreams of modeling, something she’d been working toward since age 14, were dashed.
“He tried to make us feel like we were worthless,” Bryant said of Epstein. “I don’t even know how to explain it. We were so scared of him.”
“Epstein used to poke me in the stomach and say I was fat,” she added. “He was controlling in a subtle way.”
Bryant believes Epstein cut ties with her because she was too obstinate and refused to recruit young victims for him. The final straw was when she appeared at his Manhattan mansion around midnight, feeling sick, several hours before she was supposed to get ready to serve drinks to a cadre of renowned scientists aboard his private jet.
She had visited a bar with an assistant to Epstein, even though she and fellow victims weren’t “allowed” to leave his Upper East Side property. “We weren’t really allowed to go out, but I really wanted to since she was going,” Bryant recalled.
But Bryant began to feel unwell, and believed someone had spiked her drink. The assistant, who kept the house keys, instructed her to return to the townhouse and push the front-door buzzer. Epstein was livid at the interruption.
“Epstein wasn’t expecting to be woken by the bell ringing and was furious,” Bryant said. “Tickets were promptly arranged and I was sent home six hours later.”
“He thought I was going to cause too much trouble for him, because I’m a wild card,” Bryant added. “I used to miss my mom and cry. I think he thought I was a pain and not worth the trouble.”
“By this time my life had fallen to pieces and I was a gibbering wreck.”
Even after Bryant escaped his clutches, Epstein would sporadically contact her over the years.
In 2011, the sex offender had an employee email her a nude photo that he’d snapped of her in Palm Beach, as a sick sort of memento. Bryant says Epstein took the picture after barging into her room. “Hi Ju, JE asked me to send this to you :)))” the message from the assistant read.
Two years later, Epstein sent her a connection request on LinkedIn. And in November 2015, he emailed Bryant seeking referrals for new employees. The message, reviewed by The Daily Beast, stated, “I’m looking for new assitants [sic], anyone you know.”
Epstein emailed her again in January 2017, asking whether she knew Sarah Ransome, another survivor of his abuse who sued him, Maxwell, and Kellen over his sex-trafficking enterprise. His email arrived days before Ransome filed her lawsuit in Manhattan federal court under the pseudonym “Jane Doe 43.” (The case was settled in 2018.)
At the time, Bryant did not know Ransome, who was trafficked by Epstein in 2006 and 2007, but considered Epstein’s out-of-the-blue message as a veiled threat.
Epstein also emailed her, she says, about a month before his July 2019 arrest and asked her to send him nude photographs.
The multimillionaire intimidated her, and she was too ashamed to tell loved ones what had happened to her, even as they helped her pay for therapy—and even as she was hospitalized multiple times for panic attacks stemming from his abuse.
Bryant didn’t come forward until after Epstein’s death; she told The Daily Beast she was too afraid to speak up while he was alive.
But seeing other accusers like Giuffre, Annie Farmer, and Ransome speak out has inspired her to join the growing chorus of women demanding justice.
With Maxwell behind bars, and her sex-trafficking conviction no longer in the balance, Bryant feels especially empowered to finally share her story.
“I never realized I was sex-trafficked because I didn’t realize what sex trafficking was,” Bryant told us. “I think people should be educated on trafficking and how many people go missing.”
She hopes standing up now will help support other survivors and encourage more of them to speak out about what they witnessed and endured under Epstein.
“I’ve spent my life being so ashamed but I suddenly realized I have nothing to hide—they do,” Bryant said of Epstein and his accomplices. “I want to speak out for all the people who no longer can.”