What shocked many people working alongside Wexner was how heavily (and secretly) involved Jeffrey Epstein was in Victoria's Secret. According to "Victoria's Secret: Angels and Demons," Epstein and Wexner had a close, seemingly mutually beneficial relationship in the company's early years. Wexner wanted Epstein's connections in New York City, a place where he felt like an outsider coming from Columbus, OH, so he could grow his business and expand his empire. But Epstein wanted Wexner's money, power, and easy access to beautiful young women.
At one point in the docuseries, former Victoria's Secret executive Cindy Fedus-Fields alleged Epstein once claimed he worked for the company and tried recruiting models for their catalog, which, according to a report by The New York Times, occurred in 1997. Upon learning of this, Wexner allegedly told him it was a "violation of Company policy" and that he was "forbidden from ever doing so again." While Wexner was upset by this, he did not yet cut ties with Epstein. Wexner had previously granted Epstein power of attorney in 1991, authority Epstein would hold on to for another 16 years, which made Wexner's colleagues question Epstein's involvement in the businesses.
Epstein's history of sexually assaulting women didn't bode well for Wexner's image, however, especially when serious allegations against him from specific models like Alicia Arden began trickling into the press. In 2008, Epstein was convicted on charges of child prostitution and soliciting a prostitute in Florida, where he served only 13 months and agreed to probation with extensive and unprecedented privileges. Epstein was registered as a level-three sex offender with the state of New York, and in light of this, Wexner withdrew Epstein's power of attorney. Wexner claimed to have severed ties with him completely after this, stating he was never aware of Epstein's criminal activity during their relationship. By 2019, Epstein was arrested by the FBI on sex trafficking charges, where a decades-long investigation uncovered evidence Epstein had sexually assaulted at least 36 girls, some as young as 14 years old.
That same year, in a letter to his foundation, Wexner wrote, "I am embarrassed that, like so many others, I was deceived by Mr. Epstein. I know now that my trust in him was grossly misplaced, and I deeply regret having ever crossed his path."
Epstein was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, but would never face trial. He was found dead in his jail cell in August 2019, having died by suicide. Epstein's looming influence and shady business dealings set a strong culture of abuse over Victoria's Secret from the beginning.