How to Avoid Hiring Sexual Predators Like Jeffrey Epstein or His Clients

Sexual misconduct has no place in the workplace. See 12 easy things to prevent unknowingly hiring sexual predators at work.


Please be advised that this content discusses topics related to sexual misconduct, which may be sensitive or triggering for some readers. We are committed to raising awareness and providing educational resources on these important issues. Our intention is to foster a safe and supportive environment for discussion and learning.

If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual misconduct, support is available:

  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: For confidential, 24/7 support, call 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit RAINN for more resources.
  • Safe Helpline: For members of the military community affected by sexual assault, reach out to Safe Helpline at 1-877-995-5247 or visit Safe Helpline.
  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline: Offers assistance and guidance at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or through their website The Hotline.

For immediate danger, please call 911 or your local emergency services.

Remember, it's important to take care of your mental and emotional well-being. Seeking professional help from a counselor or therapist can also be a beneficial step in processing and coping with these experiences.


When we think about people who engage in workplace misconduct, it’s hard to think of a worse offender than Jeffrey Epstein. For decades, Epstein used his money, influence, and power as one of the wealthiest financiers to commit egregious acts including sex trafficking, rape, pedophedia, and more.

Epstein had a large social circle that included similarly influential or notable individuals, spanning from people like Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, Kevin Spacey, Leonardo DiCaprio, Steven Hawking, Alan Dershowitz, and more. Some of these individuals have been separately accused in courts of law about their own sexual misconduct or crimes.

Now that documents related to Epstein and his longtime girlfriend and accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell’s court cases have started to become public, new details of the horrific acts of sexual misconduct are coming to light – and it’s caused us here at Fama to reflect on our own founding mission.

Fama was founded in 2015 after our founder and CEO hired a senior leader who sexually harassed the company’s top sales rep. The result was disastrous – for the victim, other employees, and the overall business.

Despite the leader looking great on paper and performing exceptionally well in interviews, a post-mortem uncovered a previously undetected recruiting error – the fact that he posted misogynistic content all over social media. The hiring team then realized they had missed critical indicators of misconduct and candidate quality, and our CEO made it his mission to help others prevent the same mistakes and include a review of online content in the hiring process. Since then, some of the world’s largest companies have trusted Fama to screen job candidates' online and social media content specifically for harmful and illegal misconduct like sex crimes, violence, and harassment.

In this article, we’ll walk through what sexual misconduct is, the personal and business impact of it, easy steps organizations can take to protect themselves from sexual predators, and we’ll take a look at the real life use case that will haunt many for years to come – Jeffrey Epstein and sex trafficking empire.

What you need to know about Jeffrey Epstein

Who was Jeffrey Epstein?

Jeffrey Epstein was a financier and convicted sex offender, born on January 20, 1953, in Brooklyn, New York. He started his career as a teacher but later moved into financial services, working at Bear Stearns before founding his own firm, J. Epstein & Co., managing the assets of wealthy clients. Epstein became known for his wealth, high-profile connections, and philanthropy in the sciences and education.

After two decades of sexual misconduct, including acts with minors, police began investigating Epstein for these sex crimes in 2005. By 2008, Epstein pled guilty to soliciting prostitution from a minor and ended up serving a 13-month prison sentence with work release. The case regained public attention in 2019 when Epstein was arrested on federal charges of sex trafficking minors in Florida and New York. He died in jail in August 2019 before his trial commenced. His death and connections to influential figures have spurred ongoing speculation and investigations, including those about whether or not his death was in fact by suicide, as initial reports had stated.

Despite his death, the reverberations of his crimes are still haunting many – and people are continuing to seek answers about the scope of his crimes and who else in his large social circle may have been involved.

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell’s Controversial Court Records

After decades of investigations, it’s public knowledge that Epstein and Maxwell’s criminality extended to benefit his larger social circle. In fact, many of his high-profile friends and clients have been accused, found liable, and/or pleaded guilty or liable to various sex crimes – both unrelated and related to Epstein. In other words, there are thousands of pages of court records and documents that detail additional co-conspirators, victims, and details of these heinous crimes.

The documents in question stem from a 2015 lawsuit filed against Maxwell by one of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Giuffre. In her lawsuit, Giuffre alleged that she was coerced into sexual acts with several high-profile individuals. The lawsuit was settled in 2017.

Late 2023, a Federal Judge ordered the public release of roughly 250 court documents related to the Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislane Maxwell cases beginning in January 2024. In between the order of release and the actual initial release, there’s been mass speculation about who was friends with or a client of Epstein’s, who would or wouldn’t be named for sexual misconduct or crimes, and more.

The chart below shows the significant spikes in searches and articles about Jeffrey Epstein since December 2023.

Google Trends data shows large spikes in searches about Jeffrey Epstein since related court documents were ordered for public release.

As more court documents continue to become public throughout early 2024, many want and expect to hear more information on testimonies, witness accounts, and details of investigations into Epstein and Maxwell's actions.

Who are/were Jeffrey Epstein’s clients?

While the documents released thus far have yet to implicate any new co-conspirators, enough information has previously come out – which contributed to the Judge’s decision to release the documents – that identifies many high-profile individuals and their criminal and predatory behavior. Below is a look at Epstein’s known friend list across Hollywood, business executives, academia, and even political sectors.

Important Note: Just because someone is named in the documents doesn’t necessarily indicate wrongdoing. Reading the documents of the cases and investigations and taking the time to figure out fact from fiction is important.

Many of the 150+ people already and expected to be named throughout the unsealed documents are A-list celebrities in the entertainment industry. Among those include David Copperfield, Michael Jackson, Leonardo DiCaprio, and so many more. What’s notable is that many of these individuals are very publicly known for or suspected of sexual misconduct of their own. Jackson made headlines years ago – and even had a documentary, Leaving Neverland – about his alleged misconduct with children. And Dicaprio has recently been the talk of the town for creepy and predatory behavior as he continues to date women that never seem to age past 25, despite him nearing 50.

Business executives across sectors – including technology, retail, and hospitality industries – were also named in the documents. Among those include Bill Gates of Microsoft, Les Wexner of Victoria’s Secret, and Tom Pritzker of Hyatt Hotels. Pritzker was named by Giuffre as “one of several men she was trafficked to have sex with.” Business Insider reported back in 2019 that one of Epstein’s victims said her assault took place at Wexner’s house. And, whether this stemmed from his relationship with Epstein or not, People reported on Gates’ “reputation for questionable conduct.”

Arguably the most controversial of the bunch are the public servants and political figures, including former President Bill Clinton, former President and current Presidential Candidate Donald Trump, the late former Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson, and Prince Andrew. All of these men have been separately accused and taken to court over their sexual crimes by several different women. As the 2024 election approaches, it’s significant and notable that some of the people named in the document are currently running or running for governmental positions.

What is Sexual Misconduct?

While it can be easy to think about sexual predators as high-powered people who are commonly in the public eye – whether for business or politics or in Hollywood – that certainly isn’t always the case.

The Prevalence of Sexual Misconduct

Sexual misconduct is extremely common. Research from the University of Massachusetts reports data from the EEOC, which estimates that across their careers up to 85% of women will be sexually harassed one or more times. In any given year, the research estimates that “5% of employed women and 2% of employed men experienced unwanted sexual behavior that they perceived as sexual harassment at work.”

Fama’s own annual research, The State of Misconduct at Work in 2022, found 1 in 4 candidates screened in the Media and Entertainment industry were flagged for misconduct, making it the top sector for workplace misconduct of any industry that year. Among the top three types of misconduct in the industry were harassment, intolerance, and sexual misconduct. Cited in the research are industry experts, who contribute the shocking levels of misconduct in the industry to the industry’s unique power dynamics.

The scariest part of this data? It comes from people who our customers (every day businesses like your employer) planned to hire.

What is Sexual Misconduct?

Sexual misconduct is a broad term that encompasses a range of behaviors that are sexual in nature and inappropriate, unethical, or illegal. These behaviors can occur in various contexts, including but not limited to, workplaces, educational institutions, and public spaces. Behaviors that fall under the umbrella of sexual misconduct can include unwelcome sexual advances or remarks, sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, pedophelia, and human trafficking. The key aspect of sexual misconduct is that it involves unwelcome or non-consensual sexual behavior.

Common forms of sexual misconduct (and their definitions) include:

  • Sexual Harassment: This includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. This can also mean sharing sexually explicit photos, emails, or text messages. It can occur in the workplace or other professional or social situations, and it can range from inappropriate comments to more severe harassment.
  • Sexual Assault: This is a form of sexual violence and refers to any sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim. It includes acts such as rape, attempted rape, and other forms of non-consensual touching or penetration.
  • Stalking: Persistent and unwanted attention that makes the recipient feel scared, anxious, or harassed. This can include following someone, watching them, or repeatedly contacting them against their wishes – even when this occurs online.
  • Indecent Exposure: The exposure of private parts of the body in a public or private space where such exposure is likely to be considered inappropriate or offensive.
  • Grooming: This refers to manipulative behaviors used to coerce someone into a relationship or situation where they can be exploited sexually. It often involves building trust with the victim and is frequently seen in cases involving minors.
  • Sexual Coercion: Pressuring someone into sexual activity without the use of physical force. This can include threats, manipulation, or the use of authority to compel someone to engage in sexual activity against their will.

Sexual misconduct can have serious psychological and emotional impacts on victims, their families, and communities at large regardless of the severity of the act. Creating safe environments where such behaviors are not tolerated and victims feel supported and heard is crucial in addressing and preventing sexual misconduct, especially and including at work.

Personal and Business Impact of Sexual Misconduct

The State of Misconduct at Work in 2022 research reports that just 5% of employees engaging in misconduct of any kind at work leads to significant business impact. These include impacts on health and wellbeing to victims, survivors, and their families to brand impacts to legal liabilities and costs and more. It’s also notable that misconduct has a social multiplier effect, meaning that each instance of misconduct leads to nearly 1.6 instances of misconduct.

Personal Impact

Specifically related to sexual misconduct, RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Invest National Network) reports that victims of sexual misconduct and violence often experience a wide range of repercussions to their emotional, mental, and physical health. This includes emotions like anger, loss of control, shame, fear, violation, and more. Trauma-related mental health symptoms or mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, substance abuse, and more are common after sexual harassment or violence. Common physical symptoms include increased stress, headaches, fatigue, as well as sleep and eating disturbances are extremely common among survivors.

In addition to victim and survivor impacts, organizations also face serious repercussions of sexual misconduct – whether their stakeholders are the victims or predators of sexual misconduct and violence. When organizations employ individuals who are perpetrators of this behavior, it can have profound and far-reaching impacts on the business.

Business Impacts

Impacts can be both internal, affecting the organization's operations and culture, and external, influencing its public image and market position. Key areas where the impact is often felt includes:

Legal & Compliance Impacts

The organization may face lawsuits and legal action, leading to significant financial costs. This includes settlements, legal fees, and potential fines. The EEOC shares the average sexual harassment settlement of $36,798. Holman Schaivone notes, however, that the average payout increases to $217,000 when harassment lawsuits go to trial. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received over 7,514 claims of sexual harassment resulting in $68 million in direct settlements in 2019 alone.

Depending on the nature and severity of the misconduct, there may be regulatory implications, especially if the misconduct involves violations of employment law or industry-specific regulations.

Beyond that, uncovering these types of misconduct may require the organization to conduct internal investigations, which can be disruptive, and overhaul policies and training related to sexual harassment and misconduct.

Financial Repercussions

In addition to the costs of legal action including settlements, legal fees, and fines, organizations with significant amounts of sexual misconduct have been shown to reduce operating profitability and increase labor costs for at least five years.

Shareholder value is also reduced in publicly traded companies, as these incidents can result in drops in stock prices. On average, firms lose $2.23 billion when sexual misconduct is uncovered, which corresponds to a total value loss of $42.42 billion in equity market value.

These financial losses continue for a long time, as well. Science Direct reports on a 2020 study from Boston Consulting Group and Copenhagen Business School, which finds “the initial negative impact on abnormal returns reverts to a long-term impact of around −0.8%, corresponding to an approximate $250 million loss in market value per company involved in a scandal.”

Research shows that sexual harassment causes greater financial damages to firm value than previously documented.

Reputational Damages

Sexual misconduct allegations can severely tarnish the reputation of a company. High-profile cases of sexual misconduct often attract significant media attention, which can keep the issue in the public eye for an extended period, prolonging the negative impact on the organization. Customers, partners, job seekers, and even investors may lose trust in the organization, leading to loss of business and difficulty in forming new partnerships.

A study conducted by UCLA and the University of Amsterdam found that “a single sexual harassment claim can dramatically reduce the perception of an entire organizations’ gender equity (i.e., how fair men and women are generally treated). In fact, sexual harassment claims negatively affected perceptions far more than even financial fraud claims.”

Talent Acquisition and Management Impacts

When 5% or more employees engage in any kind of misconduct, productivity is reduced by 30 to 40% and employees are 54% more likely to leave the organization. When looking directly at sexual misconduct, those impacts are similar if not even greater. Sexual misconduct impacts everything people-related from employee wellbeing to disengagement to lost productivity to absenteeism to culture to retention issues and more.

A 2018 study from Deloitte reported that the cost of sexual harassment at work topped $2.6 billion in lost productivity and contributed to $900 million in other costs. Breaking down the costs, Deloitte’s research estimates lost wellbeing for victims of actual or attempted sexual assault to be $250 million. In terms of output and productivity, the study also revealed that “each case of workplace sexual harassment represents approximately 4 working days of lost output.” Seven percent of lost productivity due to sexual misconduct was found in lost wages to individuals and employers experienced 70% of the productivity costs. Nearly ⅓ of the lost $2.62 billion in productivity costs were related to turnover. This makes sense considering additional research from Mercer shows that “employers who create cultures of health see 11% lower turnover.”  

Similarly, when sexual misconduct is overlooked, this can create or indicate a toxic workplace culture where inappropriate behavior is tolerated. This can perpetuate a cycle of misconduct and discourage employees from speaking out against unethical behaviors. The study from UMass reports roughly 75% of workers don’t report their workplace sexual harassment experiences to a supervisor, manager, or union representative.

Sexual misconduct by an organizational stakeholder is not just a personal issue. It’s a significant organizational matter that can affect every facet of a business, from legal standing to employee well-being and public perception. Addressing such issues promptly and effectively is crucial for the health and sustainability of any organization.

How Companies Can Prevent Hiring Sexual Predators

Employers can take several proactive steps to reduce the risk of hiring individuals who may commit sexual misconduct. These measures are designed to create a safer workplace and protect both the organization and its employees:

Compliance and Corporate Policies

  • Legal Compliance and Consultation: Ensure compliance with all relevant laws and regulations regarding hiring practices. Consult legal experts to understand any legal obligations and rights concerning background checks and employee privacy.
  • Create and Implement a Clear Policy: Have a clear, written policy against sexual misconduct and harassment of any kind. This policy should outline unacceptable behaviors, reporting procedures, and the consequences of policy violations.

Company Culture

  • Promote a Positive Workplace Culture: Cultivate a workplace culture that values respect, integrity, and accountability. A positive culture can deter misconduct and encourage employees to speak up if they witness inappropriate behavior.
  • Diversity and Inclusion Efforts: Foster an inclusive environment where diversity is respected. A diverse and inclusive workplace can contribute to a more respectful and understanding workplace culture. This makes sexual misconduct less likely to occur and also reduces negative consequences of reporting, like illegal retaliation.

Hiring Policies and Processes

  • Regularly Review Hiring Practices: Continuously assess and update hiring practices to ensure they are thorough and effective in screening potential employees for misconduct issues like sexual misconduct and harassment. This includes making sure the organization has the right tools and screening partners to identify sexual predators – whether they show up on a traditional background check or not.
  • Diverse Interviewers & Behavioral Interview Techniques: Use behavioral interviewing techniques to assess a candidate's attitude towards workplace behavior. Have a diverse group of interviewers ask questions that require candidates to describe how they have handled situations in the past that might be relevant to understanding their behavior. This will allow hiring teams to assess how candidates answer certain questions as well as respond to different types of people.

Sexual Misconduct Training

Leverage Technology to Mitigate and Manage Misconduct

  • Safe Reporting Mechanisms and Solutions: Establish and communicate a safe, confidential process for reporting misconduct. Employees should feel comfortable reporting inappropriate behavior without fear of retaliation.
  • Thorough Background Checks: Conduct comprehensive background checks on all potential hires. This should include checking criminal records, employment history, and references. In some cases, more in-depth checks such as credit or education verification might be relevant.
  • Robust Reference Checking: Go beyond basic reference checks. Contact former employers and colleagues to get a better understanding of the candidate's behavior and conduct in previous workplaces.
  • Online and Social Media Screening: Reviewing a candidate’s public social media profiles provides critical insights into their behavior and character. If a candidate is sharing misogynistic, violent, or sexual misconduct content online, it may be a sign to dig in deeper before bringing a new hire on board. However, reviewing candidate online and social media activity must be done carefully, compliantly, in accordance with privacy laws and regulations, and ethically. Using a 3rd-party solution like Fama can ensure compliance and help organizations screen at scale.

It’s important to remember that while these steps can significantly reduce the risk, no method is foolproof. Continuous effort and commitment to a respectful and safe workplace are key in preventing sexual misconduct.


The unsealing and ongoing release of court documents related to Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell represents a pivotal moment in understanding the extensive network of sexual misconduct that has permeated various sectors of society. As names and details emerge, the impact of these revelations extends beyond the individuals involved, shedding light on systemic issues within industries ranging from entertainment to politics.

This situation underscores the importance of stringent measures against sexual misconduct in all professional environments. The reputational damage, legal consequences, and moral implications for businesses and individuals alike are profound. Companies must prioritize creating safe, respectful workplaces and rigorously vet potential hires to protect against such damaging behaviors. This involves not only traditional background checks, but also more modern and comprehensive social media and online screening, and robust policies but also fostering a culture of integrity and accountability.

As more documents are released, the public's focus should remain on the broader lessons about power dynamics, the responsibility of institutions, and the importance of giving a voice to victims of sexual abuse. While the details of these cases are salacious and involve high-profile figures, the core issue is the pervasive nature of sexual misconduct and the collective responsibility to combat it. Beyond Epstein’s network, it’s troubling to see sexual misconduct and crimes are on the rise. reports a rising number of people listed on sex offender registries in the U.S., with roughly over 786,000 people listed on states' sex offender registries as of February 2023.

Organizations must recognize the far-reaching impacts of sexual misconduct and take proactive steps to prevent it, ensuring that their hiring practices, workplace policies, and organizational cultures are aligned with the principles of safety, respect, and equality. By doing so, they not only protect themselves from legal and reputational risks but also contribute to a societal shift towards greater accountability and ethical conduct.

In conclusion, the Epstein-Maxwell case is a stark reminder of the ongoing battle against sexual misconduct and the critical role of organizations in leading this fight. It's a call to action for continuous vigilance, ethical leadership, and a commitment to fostering environments where everyone feels safe and respected.

To learn more about how Fama can help you mitigate sexual misconduct at work, contact us at