NEW YORK (Reuters) – American financier Jeffrey Epstein was charged with intercourse trafficking on Monday, as prosecutors accused him of luring dozens of ladies 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.
The previous hedge fund supervisor “deliberately sought out minors and knew that lots of his victims have been in truth below the age of 18, together with as a result of, in some cases, minor victims expressly instructed him their age,” the indictment mentioned.
Epstein was charged with one rely of intercourse trafficking and one rely of intercourse trafficking conspiracy, for alleged misconduct from at the least 2002 to 2005. He faces as much as 45 years in jail if convicted.
Prosecutors will ask a decide that Epstein be detained pending trial, U.S. Lawyer for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman, mentioned at a press convention.
“There may be a unprecedented danger of flight, notably given the defendant’s exorbitant wealth, his possession of and entry to non-public planes able to worldwide journey, and his vital worldwide ties,” prosecutors mentioned in a courtroom submitting earlier than Epstein’s preliminary courtroom look on Monday.
His lawyer, Jack Goldberger, mentioned earlier than the indictment was made public that Epstein will plead not responsible.
“The alleged habits shocks the conscience, and whereas the charged conduct is from quite a few years in the past, it’s nonetheless profoundly necessary to the various alleged victims, now younger ladies,” Berman mentioned. They deserve their day in courtroom.”
Epstein has mentioned in earlier courtroom filings that his encounters with alleged victims have been consensual and that he believed they have been 18 after they occurred.
EPSTEIN TIES TO TRUMP, CLINTON
Epstein was arrested here on Saturday night time at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, the place he had returned on his personal airplane from Paris.
Berman mentioned a search of Epstein’s mansion in Manhattan, performed below a search warrant, uncovered proof together with “nude pictures of what gave the impression to be underage ladies.”
He inspired different victims to return ahead and make contact with prosecutors.
Recognized for socializing with politicians and royalty, Epstein as soon as had pals together with U.S. President Donald Trump and former president Invoice Clinton, and in accordance with courtroom papers Britain’s Prince Andrew.
None of these folks have been talked about within the indictment. The case is being dealt with by the general public corruption unit of Berman’s workplace. Berman instructed reporters he wouldn’t touch upon media hypothesis about folks affiliated or related to Epstein and “I urge you to not learn into that by hook or by crook.”
Trump praised Epstein in an interview with New York journal in 2002.
“I’ve recognized Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific man,” Trump mentioned. “He’s a whole lot of enjoyable to be with. It’s even mentioned that he likes stunning ladies as a lot as I do, and lots of of them are on the youthful facet. Little doubt about it – Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”
Epstein first got here below investigation in 2005 after police in Palm Seashore, Florida, obtained stories he had sexually abused underage ladies in his mansion there.
By 2007, Epstein was dealing with a possible federal indictment for sexually abusing dozens of ladies between 1999 and 2007, directing others to abuse them, and paying workers to deliver victims to him, in accordance 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 through 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. Berman mentioned he was not sure by it.
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.
Epstein would initially recruit victims to supply “massages,” which they’d carry out nude or partially nude, the indictment mentioned.
Prosecutors mentioned the encounters would grow to be 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 use” prosecutors mentioned.
Three unnamed workers, one in Manhattan and two in Palm Seashore, aided Epstein by arranging a few of his sexual encounters, the indictment mentioned. A number of of Epstein’s accusers had challenged his Florida deal in courtroom, saying they have been denied an opportunity to specific their views, violating the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act.
In February of this yr, a U.S. district decide 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 finances matter.
Acosta instructed lawmakers that human trafficking was “an incredibly necessary situation,” and that his workplace’s efforts ensured that Epstein could be punished.
“I perceive the frustration,” Acosta mentioned. “It’s necessary 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 legal professionals dedicated skilled misconduct within the Florida case.
Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; enhancing by Noeleen Walder and Grant McCool