Jeffrey Epstein, a billionaire financier, philanthropist and registered sex offender who avoided lengthy prison time in the past, was charged with sex-trafficking girls as young as 14 in a federal indictment unsealed Monday.
According to the indictment, Epstein “sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls at his homes” in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida, along with other locations. The indictment also accuses Epstein of paying some of his victims to recruit more underage victims.
He has been charged with one count of sex trafficking and one count of sex-trafficking conspiracy. These charged stem from accusations dating back to 2002-2005. Epstein appeared in federal court in Manhattan on Monday afternoon in a blue jail uniform.
“This conduct, as alleged, went on for years,” Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said at a news conference. “The alleged behavior shocks the conscience.”
Berman said convictions could result in up to 45 years in jail and that his office will ask a judge to keep Epstein in custody until trial.
The prosecution alleges that Epstein is a significant flight risk.
Epstein, 66, rose to prominence almost two decades ago and at various times could list Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Kevin Spacey and Great Britain’s Prince Andrew among friends and associates. He was arrested Saturday and jailed after his private jet arrived from France.
The charges come 11 years after Epstein avoided what could have been a lengthy prison sentence when he pleaded guilty to state charges of soliciting and procuring a person under 18 for prostitution.
Under a non-prosecution agreement overseen by federal authorities in Florida, Epstein served a 13-month jail sentence but was allowed to spend much of it in work release at his Palm Beach office. He also settled with dozens of victims and was required to register as a sex offender.
U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, the U.S. attorney in Miami at the time, has defended his handling of the case. Berman said federal prosecutors in New York did not sign that agreement and are not bound by it.
The indictment claims Epstein “incentivized his victims” by paying them hundreds of dollars for each additional girl they recruited. Encounters would apparently begin with a “massage,” before Epstein would “escalate the nature and scope of physical contact with his victim.”
It adds that unnamed employees of Epstein aided in scheduling the girls.
Berman said a search of Epstein’s Manhattan mansion after his arrest turned up nude photos of what appeared to be underage girls.
Prosecutors are seeking forfeiture of the mansion.
Last week, a federal appeals judge ruled that some sealed court records that accused Epstein and others of participating in an underage sex-trafficking ring must be made public.
A lawsuit filed by one of the alleged victims, claims that Epstein and a friend sexually trafficked her to Epstein’s friends. These men have denied the allegations.
Epstein’s case emerged in the public eye late last year after an explosive investigation into the Epstein case published by the Miami Herald.
Sex trafficking is a huge problem in the United States and many other countries. In recent years public awareness of this issue has grown, which has driven police to ramp up their efforts to catch and prosecute any individuals believed to have committed or enabled human sex trafficking.
When it comes to sex trafficking, many people may be involved and arrested. When a sex trafficking bust is made, anyone that contributed to the following roles could be implicated and criminally prosecuted:
Our Florida Sex Trafficking Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help if you have been arrested for human trafficking or a related offense. We encourage you to assert your rights early on and refrain from speaking with law enforcement agents after an arrest. Instead, politely insist on your right to consult with an attorney. By speaking with us before engaging in any type of communication with police or government investigators, we can ensure that nothing you say is taken out of context and later used against you in a court of law.
As former prosecutors, our Florida Sex Crimes Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton understand how these cases work and what the prosecution will do to try and secure a conviction. We can make sure your defense strategy is aggressive and work to achieve the best possible outcome. We will preserve your rights throughout every stage of a criminal case.
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