NEW YORK (Reuters) – American financier Jeffrey Epstein pleaded not responsible on Monday to prices of intercourse trafficking as prosecutors accused him of luring dozens of women as younger as 14 to his luxurious properties in New York and Florida and paying them for intercourse acts.
An indictment unsealed in federal courtroom in Manhattan accused Epstein, 66, of arranging for women to carry out nude “massages” and different intercourse acts, and paying some ladies to recruit others, from at the least 2002 to 2005.
The previous hedge fund supervisor “deliberately sought out minors and knew that a lot of his victims had been in actual fact below the age of 18, together with as a result of, in some situations, minor victims expressly informed him their age,” the indictment mentioned.
Recognized for socializing with politicians and royalty, Epstein’s associates as soon as included U.S. President Donald Trump and former president Invoice Clinton, and in line with courtroom papers Britain’s Prince Andrew. None of these folks was talked about within the indictment.
Sporting darkish blue jail scrubs, Epstein entered his plea earlier than U.S. Justice of the Peace Choose Henry Pitman to 1 rely of intercourse trafficking and one rely of intercourse trafficking conspiracy. He faces as much as 45 years in jail if convicted.
“The alleged habits shocks the conscience, and whereas the charged conduct is from plenty of years in the past, it’s nonetheless profoundly essential to the numerous alleged victims, now younger ladies,” U.S. Legal professional Geoffrey Berman mentioned at a press convention. “They deserve their day in courtroom.”
Prosecutors informed Pitman that Epstein doesn’t deserve bail and must be detained pending trial, saying he posed an “extraordinary danger of flight” due to his wealth, possession of personal planes, and vital worldwide ties.
Pitman didn’t rule on the request, however will rethink the matter at a Thursday afternoon listening to. Epstein will stay in jail till then.
Epstein has mentioned in earlier courtroom filings that his encounters with alleged victims had been consensual and that he believed they had been 18 once they occurred.
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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 airplane from Paris.
Prosecutors mentioned a search of Epstein’s mansion in Manhattan, performed below a search warrant, uncovered proof of lots of, and maybe 1000’s, of nude images of “what seemed to be underage ladies,” together with some images cataloged on compact discs and stored in a locked protected.
Berman inspired different victims to return ahead and make contact with prosecutors.
The case is being dealt with by the general public corruption unit of Berman’s workplace.
Berman declined to debate media hypothesis about folks affiliated or related to Epstein, telling reporters: “I urge you to not learn into that in some way.”
Trump praised Epstein in an interview with New York journal in 2002.
“I’ve identified Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific man,” Trump mentioned. “He’s lots of enjoyable to be with. It’s even mentioned that he likes lovely ladies as a lot as I do, and plenty of of them are on the youthful aspect. Little doubt about it – Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”
Epstein first got here below investigation in 2005 after police in Palm Seaside, Florida, acquired stories he had sexually abused underage ladies in his mansion there.
By 2007, Epstein was going through a possible federal indictment for sexually abusing dozens of women between 1999 and 2007, directing others to abuse them, and paying workers to carry victims to him, in line with courtroom filings.
Nevertheless, Epstein struck a deal to plead responsible in 2008 to a lesser Florida state felony prostitution cost. He served 13 months in a county jail, however was allowed to go away in the course of the day to go to his workplace, and agreed to register as a intercourse offender.
A few of Epstein’s accusers have criticized that settlement as too lenient. U.S. Legal professional Berman mentioned he was not certain by it.
Reid Weingarten, a lawyer for Epstein, informed the Justice of the Peace choose that his shopper had led a “law-abiding life” since 2008, and that the indictment seemed to be “primarily a do-over.”
Prosecutors who helped craft the Florida settlement included Alex Acosta, then the U.S. Legal professional for the Southern District of Florida and now Trump’s Secretary of Labor. A spokeswoman for the Labor Division declined to touch upon Sunday.
Epstein would initially recruit victims to offer “massages,” which they might carry out nude or partially nude, the indictment mentioned.
Prosecutors mentioned the encounters would develop into more and more sexual in nature, generally together with groping and oblique contact with victims’ genitals, the place Epstein would usually masturbate and ask victims to the touch him whereas he did.
Epstein paid ladies to recruit new ladies, to make sure a “regular provide of latest victims to take advantage of” prosecutors mentioned.
Three unnamed workers, one in Manhattan and two in Palm Seaside, aided Epstein by arranging a few of his sexual encounters, the indictment mentioned. A number of of Epstein’s accusers mentioned that within the Florida deal, they had been denied an opportunity to precise their views, violating the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act. In February of this 12 months, a U.S. district choose in Florida agreed, saying the deal was unlawful.
Even so, the U.S. Division of Justice mentioned in a courtroom submitting final month there was no motive to cancel the settlement.
Democrats within the U.S. Home of Representatives confronted Acosta about his position in April, throughout a listening to earlier than a Home subcommittee on a routine price range matter.
Acosta informed lawmakers that human trafficking was “an extremely essential challenge,” and that his workplace’s efforts ensured that Epstein can be punished.
“I perceive the frustration,” Acosta mentioned. “It’s essential to grasp that he was going to get off with no jail time or restitution. It was the work of our workplace that resulted in him going to jail.”
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 and Grant McCool