NEW YORK (Reuters) – American financier Jeffrey Epstein pleaded not responsible on Monday to costs of intercourse trafficking as prosecutors accused him of luring dozens of women as younger as 14 to his luxurious houses in New York and Florida and paying them for intercourse acts.
An indictment unsealed in federal court docket in Manhattan accused Epstein, 66, of arranging for ladies to carry out nude “massages” and different intercourse acts, and paying some women to recruit others, from a minimum of 2002 to 2005.
“The alleged conduct shocks the conscience, and whereas the charged conduct is from a variety of years in the past, it’s nonetheless profoundly vital to the numerous alleged victims, now younger ladies,” U.S. Legal professional Geoffrey Berman mentioned at a press convention. “They deserve their day in court docket.”
Epstein was recognized for socializing with politicians and royalty, with associates who’ve included U.S. President Donald Trump, former President Invoice Clinton and in response to court docket papers, Britain’s Prince Andrew. None of these individuals was talked about within the indictment.
Sporting darkish blue jail scrubs, Epstein entered his plea earlier than U.S. Justice of the Peace Decide Henry Pitman to at least one rely of intercourse trafficking and one rely of intercourse trafficking conspiracy. Epstein faces as much as 45 years in jail if convicted.
In line with the indictment, the previous hedge fund supervisor “deliberately sought out minors and knew that lots of his victims have been actually beneath the age of 18, together with as a result of, in some cases, minor victims expressly advised him their age.”
Epstein, who registered as a intercourse offender beneath a 2008 plea deal in Florida, has mentioned in earlier court docket filings that his encounters with alleged victims have been consensual and that he believed they have been 18 once they occurred.
Epstein will stay in jail till a minimum of July 15, when a choose has scheduled a bail listening to.
Prosecutors have mentioned Epstein must be denied bail, arguing he poses an “extraordinary threat of flight” due to his wealth, non-public planes and important worldwide ties.
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Epstein was arrested here on Saturday night time at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, the place he had returned on his non-public aircraft from Paris.
Prosecutors mentioned a search of Epstein’s mansion in Manhattan uncovered proof of a whole bunch, and maybe hundreds, of nude images of “what gave the impression to be underage women.”
Berman inspired different victims to return ahead and call prosecutors.
The case is being dealt with by the general public corruption unit of Berman’s workplace.
Berman declined to debate media hypothesis about individuals affiliated or related to Epstein, telling reporters: “I urge you to not learn into that someway.”
In 2002, then-businessman Trump praised Epstein in a New York journal interview.
“I’ve recognized Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific man,” Trump mentioned. “He’s numerous enjoyable to be with. It’s even mentioned that he likes lovely ladies as a lot as I do, and lots of of them are on the youthful aspect. Little question about it – Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”
A spokesman for Clinton mentioned in an announcement: “President Clinton is aware of nothing concerning the horrible crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded responsible to in Florida some years in the past, or these with which he has been lately charged in New York … He’s not spoken to Epstein in effectively over a decade.”
Epstein first got here beneath investigation in 2005 after police in Palm Seaside, Florida, acquired studies he had sexually abused underage women in his mansion there.
By 2007, Epstein was dealing with a possible federal indictment for sexually abusing dozens of women between 1999 and 2007. Epstein struck a deal, nevertheless, to plead responsible in 2008 to a lesser Florida state felony prostitution cost, and register as a intercourse offender.
He served 13 months in a county jail, however was allowed to depart through the day to go to his workplace.
A few of Epstein’s accusers have criticized that settlement as too lenient. Berman, the U.S. lawyer, mentioned he was not certain by it.
Reid Weingarten, a lawyer for Epstein, advised the Justice of the Peace choose on Monday that his shopper had led a “law-abiding life” since 2008, and the indictment gave the impression to be “primarily a do-over.”
Sigrid McCawley, a lawyer for among the ladies who’ve accused Epstein, learn statements on behalf of two of her purchasers outdoors the courthouse.
“The information of my abuser’s arrest as we speak is a step in the appropriate course to lastly maintain Epstein accountable for his crimes and restore my religion that energy and cash can’t overcome justice,” mentioned an announcement by one of many ladies, Sarah Ransome.
Prosecutors who helped craft the Florida settlement included Alex Acosta, then the U.S. lawyer for the Southern District of Florida and now Trump’s secretary of labor. A spokeswoman for the Labor Division declined to touch upon Sunday.
In line with the indictment, Epstein would initially recruit victims to offer “massages,” which they might carry out nude or partially nude.
Prosecutors mentioned the encounters would turn out to be more and more sexual, generally together with groping and oblique contact with victims’ genitals, the place Epstein would sometimes masturbate and ask victims to the touch him whereas he did.
Epstein paid women to recruit new women, to make sure a “regular provide of recent victims to use” prosecutors mentioned.
Three unnamed workers, one in Manhattan and two in Florida, aided Epstein by arranging a few of his sexual encounters, the indictment mentioned.
At a second court docket listening to on Monday, U.S. District Decide Richard Berman requested Assistant U.S. Legal professional Alex Rossmiller whether or not different individuals is likely to be charged. Rossmiller mentioned no further indictment was imminent but it surely was potential “down the street.”
A number of of Epstein’s accusers mentioned they have been denied an opportunity to specific their views on the Florida deal, a violation of the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act.
In February, a federal choose in Florida known as the settlement unlawful. Even so, the Division of Justice mentioned in a June court docket submitting that there was no purpose to cancel it.
Democrats within the U.S. Home of Representatives confronted former prosecutor Acosta concerning the settlement throughout a listening to on a routine funds matter in April.
Acosta assured lawmakers that human trafficking was “an extremely vital concern,” and mentioned his workplace’s efforts ensured that Epstein could be punished.
The Justice Division is investigating whether or not authorities attorneys dedicated skilled misconduct within the Florida case.
Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Enhancing by Noeleen Walder, Grant McCool and Peter Cooney