Wealthy US financier and friend of the powerful, Jeffrey Epstein, has been formally charged in New York with running “a vast network” of underage girls for sex.
The indictment alleges he enticed minors to visit his Manhattan and Florida mansions between 2002 and 2005. According to the charges, the girls, some as young as 14, were given hundreds of dollars for sex acts.
The 66-year-old hedge fund manager was arrested on Saturday at Teterboro Airport after arriving from France on his private jet. Epstein faces one count of sex trafficking and one of sex trafficking conspiracy, he is expected to plead not guilty to the charges. He is due to appear in court. Reports suggest he could remain in custody until a bail hearing on Thursday.
What does the charge sheet say?
The indictment alleges Epstein knew his victims were under 18. Often, they would be invited to perform a massage on the naked Epstein before being subjected to sexual abuse, it says. The accused “also paid certain of his victims to recruit additional girls to be similarly abused”, the document alleges.
He conspired with others “including employees and associates” who helped schedule encounters at his Manhattan mansion and Palm Beach residence, it is alleged. Epstein has maintained that he believed the girls were at least 18 and that the encounters were consensual.
Epstein, once a friend of Prince Andrew, former US President Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, has been previously accused of abusing dozens of teenage girls between 1999 and 2007. He reached a plea deal to avoid federal sex trafficking charges in the case.
In 2008 he pleaded guilty to lesser Florida state charges of soliciting and procuring a person under the age of 18 for prostitution. He spent 13 months in jail and registered as a sex offender, avoiding a possible life sentence.
Earlier this year, a Florida judge ruled that federal prosecutors broke the law by not informing Epstein’s victims of the plea deal at the time. Judge Kenneth Marra is currently deciding whether the non-prosecution agreement that protected Epstein from the more serious charges should still stand.
Following the ruling, the White House said it was also “looking into” Labour Secretary Alexander Acosta’s role in the plea deal, which he approved in his previous role as a US attorney.
Epstein in December deprived his alleged victims of the chance to testify against him for the first time by reaching a last-minute agreement to settle a civil lawsuit.
Epstein was born in New York. As a young professional, he taught mathematics and physics at Manhattan’s private Dalton School. He moved into finance in 1976, working as an options trader for investment banking company Bear Stearns. Within four years, he was made a limited partner.
He went on to found his own financial management firm J Epstein & Co, reportedly managing the assets of clients with more than $1bn (£798m) in net worth. In 1996, he changed his company’s name to The Financial Trust Co and based it in the US Virgin Islands for tax purposes.
His lavish lifestyle, along with the secrecy surrounding his client list and other details of his business, earned Epstein a reputation as a mysterious moneyman.
Trump speaks about Epstein
“I’ve known Jeff for 15 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.” Trump was quoted saying this in the New York Magazine profile. In October 28, 2002 in the article “Jeffrey Epstein: International Moneyman of Mystery” by Landon Thomas Jr.
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