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 houses in New York and Florida and paying them for intercourse acts.
An indictment unsealed in federal court docket in Manhattan mentioned Epstein, 66, “deliberately sought out minors and knew that lots of his victims have been in actual fact beneath the age of 18, together with as a result of, in some cases, minor victims expressly instructed him their age.”
Epstein 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.
The indictment charged Epstein with one rely of intercourse trafficking and one rely of intercourse trafficking conspiracy.
His lawyer, Jack Goldberger, mentioned earlier than the indictment was made public that Epstein will plead not responsible.
Recognized for socializing with politicians and royalty, the previous hedge fund supervisor first got here beneath investigation in 2005 after police in Palm Seashore, Florida, obtained studies he had sexually abused minors in his mansion there.
Epstein was arrested right here on Saturday night time and anticipated to seem in federal court docket on Monday to listen to the fees, which cowl a interval from no less than 2002 to 2005.
A decade in the past, Epstein prevented related costs in Florida in a plea deal.
By 2007, Epstein had been going through a possible federal indictment for sexually abusing dozens of ladies between 1999 and 2007, directing others to abuse them and paying staff to convey victims to him, in accordance with court docket filings.
Nevertheless, Epstein struck a deal wherein he pleaded responsible to a lesser Florida state felony prostitution cost. He served a 13-month sentence in county jail, throughout which he was allowed to go away in the course of the day to go to his workplace.
Prosecutors concerned within the settlement included Alex Acosta, then the U.S. Legal professional for the Southern District of Florida and now Secretary of Labor for President Donald Trump.
A spokeswoman for the Division of Labor on Sunday declined to touch upon Epstein’s arrest.
EPSTEIN SOUGHT ‘STEADY SUPPLY’ OF GIRLS
Based on the indictment, Epstein would initially recruit victims to offer “massages,” which they might carry out nude or partially nude.
Prosecutors mentioned the encounters would develop into more and more sexual in nature, typically 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 additionally allegedly paid women to recruit new women, to make sure a “regular provide of recent victims to take advantage of.”
The indictment additionally mentioned three unnamed staff, one in Manhattan and two in Palm Seashore, aided Epstein by arranging a few of his sexual encounters.
EARLIER DEAL CRITICIZED
A number of of Epstein’s accusers had challenged his Florida deal in court docket, who say they have been denied an opportunity to have their views, violating the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act.
In February of this 12 months, a U.S. district decide in Florida agreed, ruling that the deal violated the regulation.
Even so, the U.S. Division of Justice mentioned in a court docket submitting final month there was no motive to cancel the settlement.
Democrats within the U.S. Home of Representatives confronted Acosta about his function in April, throughout a listening to earlier than the Home Appropriations subcommittee on a routine finances matter.
Acosta responded that human trafficking was “an incredibly vital subject” and mentioned his workplace’s efforts ensured that Epstein confronted jail time and needed to register as a intercourse offender.
“I perceive the frustration,” Acosta instructed the subcommittee. “I feel it’s vital 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.”
A Justice Division workplace is investigating whether or not authorities attorneys dedicated skilled misconduct within the Epstein case.
Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; writing by Jonathan Stempel; enhancing by Noeleen Walder and Grant McCool