Federal prosecutors on Monday released an indictment against billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein, charging him with sex trafficking and accusing him of using his fortune to “create a vast network of underage victims for him to sexually exploit.”
Epstein is expected to appear later Monday in Manhattan federal court to be arraigned on the charges, which cover alleged crimes between 2002 and 2005.
According to the indictment, Epstein “enticed and recruited, and caused to be enticed and recruited, minor girls to visit him” at his Manhattan mansion and Palm Beach estate “to engage in sex acts with him, after which he would give the victims hundreds of dollars in cash.
“Moreover, and in order to maintain and increase his supply of victims, Epstein also paid certain of his victims to recruit additional girls to be similarly abused by Epstein.
“In this way, Epstein created a vast network of underage victims for him to sexually exploit.”
The indictment details three victims and refers to three unnamed employees who assisted Epstein in the alleged scheme.
As The Daily Beast first reported, the mysterious money man was collared on Saturday by the FBI-NYPD Crimes Against Children Task Force. The 66-year-old Epstein—who has palatial homes in Palm Beach, New Mexico, on a private island in the Caribbean, in Paris, and on Manhattan’s tony Upper East Side—was taken into federal custody as he landed at New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport on an international flight from France, according to NBC News. He spent the weekend in the Metropolitan Correctional Center, according to a senior law enforcement official—the high-security prison once dubbed tougher than Guantanamo, which also houses the likes of Paul Manafort and notorious drug lord El Chapo.
Epstein’s mansion in New York was raided by federal agents on Saturday night as they executed search warrants, with a witness telling the New York Postthat authorities broke the door down and “went in with bags.”
In an announcement today, Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office, said that Epstein will face one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. The hedge fund manager—who has palled around with the likes of Bill Clinton and Donald Trump—is accused of sexually exploiting and abusing dozens of underage victims, some as young as 14, in locations that included his Manhattan and Florida mansions. He would hire the girls for “massages” and then grope or assault them in private, prosecutors say.
“Epstein exploited girls who were vulnerable to abuse, enticed them with cash payments, and escalated his conduct to include sex acts, often occurring at his residence on the Upper East Side of Manhattan,” Berman said. “While the charged conduct is from a number of years ago, the victims—then children and now young women—are no less entitled to their day in court. My Office is proud to stand up for these victims by bringing this indictment.”
Tip of the Iceberg
Even as Epstein faces sex-trafficking charges in New York, other cases threaten to further expose the financier.
In Florida, a judge has ruled that Acosta’s 2007 plea deal with Epstein violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act because it was brokered in secret, without the knowledge of the young women involved. While the government’s attorneys are recommending that the plea deal should be upheld—to protect the privacy of the women, they say, as well as the monetary settlements some have won against Epstein, who agreed not to contest damages—the judge has yet to issue a final ruling. Meanwhile, some alleged victims continue to press for the plea deal to be tossed and for Epstein to face federal charges in Florida—or for the files in the case to be made public.
Meanwhile, other alleged victims, in other locations, have started to emerge. A woman named Maria Farmer claimed in April in an affidavit that Epstein sexually assaulted her at Les Wexner’s mansion in Ohio in 1996, and that he molested her 15-year-old sister in New Mexico. She also said that Dershowitz used to frequent Epstein’s Upper East Side mansion as girls in school uniforms paraded in for “modeling” calls. (Dershowitz denies the claims. Wexner and Epstein did not respond to requests for comment.)
And Virginia Giuffre—who claimed that as an underage teen, she was loaned out for sex by Epstein and his girlfriend, the British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, to famous friends like Prince Andrew and Dershowitz (the two men deny it)—is at the center of a fight that could turn explosive. A defamation suit was brought against Giuffre by Maxwell, and settled before it got to court. But the Miami Herald and others have sued to have documents in the case unsealed—and just last week, the court agreed. In the ruling, the court warned the public that allegations in the documents were just that—accusations not yet proven. But such an admonition may hint at bombshells ahead for Epstein and his friends.
“I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years—terrific guy,” Trump told New York Magazine in 2002. “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. No doubt about it—Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”
That “social life” will likely be on full display in Manhattan federal court in the months to come.
*see full story by The Daily Beast