NEW YORK: Hollywood studios and networks are terminating their relationships with publicist Peggy Siegal over her connection to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, according to Variety and other media.
Netflix, FX and Annapurna have cut ties with Siegal following media reports that identified her as a "professional hostess" that used "her gate-keeping powers to usher Epstein, a friend, into screenings and events," according to The New York Times.
Initially convicted in 2008, Epstein was able to "return to elite social circles after his conviction through private gatherings [Siegal] organized at his Upper East Side home, as well as numerous events she hosted for studio clients," according to The Hollywood Reporter.
While acknowledging that she did invite Epstein to a "handful" of events, Siegal defended her actions in statements to Variety and THR.
"I did not know at the time — and did not learn until recently — that he had been abusing underage girls," she wrote. "That just wasn’t common knowledge. Had I known that he had been accused of abusing underage girls, I would not have maintained a friendship with him. I am horrified as each of these women come forward and the accusations mount. I am deeply embarrassed by my relationship with him and that I allowed him to use me."
Epstein is facing new underage sex-trafficking charges. On Monday, he appealed a judge’s decision to hold him without bail. Renewed scrutiny of Epstein came about as a result of investigative reporting by the Miami Herald, which found that the financier used powerful connections to shield himself from additional prosecution. It also led to the resignation of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, who struck a plea deal with Epstein in 2008 when Acosta was a U.S. attorney in Florida.