Billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein charged with sex trafficking

Billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein charged with sex trafficking

Jeffrey Epstein's mug shot from his previous arrest in July 2006. (Palm Beach County [Fla.] Sheriff's Depatment)

Update: 7/08/19 2:30 p.m. EDT – Epstein has entered a not guilty plea in Manhattan federal court to charges of sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. The charges carry a maximum of 45 years. Epstein is due back in court on Thursday for a detention hearing. He will be held in jail until the hearing.

WASHINGTON – Federal prosecutors have indicted billionaire financier and philanthropist Jeffrey Epstein in connection with charges related to sex trafficking of young girls, according to court documents that were unsealed on Monday.

The 14-page indictment was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. It charges Epstein, 66, with two counts: sex trafficking conspiracy and sex trafficking.

The indictment alleges that from about 2002-05 Epstein abused dozens of minor girls as young as age 14 at his residences in New York City, Palm Beach, Fla., and other locations.

The indictment alleges that Epstein engaged in sex acts with the minors and then he or one of his employees gave them “hundreds of dollars in cash.”  It further alleges that Epstein sought to “maintain and increase his supply of victims,” by paying certain victims to “recruit additional girls to be similarly abused.”

The indictment alleges that victims were recruited to give Epstein “massages.” The massages, according to the indictment, were performed “nude or partially nude” and  often included the performance of “one or more sex acts.”

The Daily Beast first reported Epstein’s arrest on Saturday.

Epstein is a registered sex offender.

In June 2008, he pleaded guilty in Florida to a single state charge of soliciting prostitution from girls as young as 14. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison. But instead of being sent to a state prison in Florida, Epstein was allowed to serve his sentence in a private wing of the Palm Beach County jail. He hired his own security detail and was allowed to go to his downtown Palm Beach office for 12 hours a day, six days a week.

He served 13 months before being released for a year of probation, during which he frequently jetted to his other homes in Manhattan and his private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, federal prosecutors  dropped their charges against Epstein. The deal also shielded any of Epstein’s co-conspirators from prosecution.

In February, a federal judge ruled that federal prosecutors violated the law by not informing Epstein’s two unnamed victims of the so-called “non-prosecution agreement.” One of those prosecutors is Alex Acosta, who at the time was the U.S. attorney in Miami.

Acosta is now the secretary of labor. President Donald Trump nominated him to head the Labor Department in February 2017 and the Senate confirmed the nomination two months later.

Epstein was once a Democratic mega-donor. He supported the campaigns of former President Bill Clinton and former Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut. A Miami Herald series about Epstein last November said Bill Clinton flew several times on Epstein’s private jet, nicknamed “Lolita Express,” to the financier’s island. But there is no evidence of any wrongdoing by Clinton. The Miami Herald’s reports also said Epstein had donated to the Clinton Foundation.

Before being elected president, Trump socialized with fellow Palm Beach resident Epstein. Trump biographer Tim O’Brien reminded his Twitter followers on Saturday that in a 2002 profile of Epstein in New York magazine, the future president told the magazine: “I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”

Epstein is expected in court this afternoon.

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