New York billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein has been charged with sex trafficking following accusations that he sexually assaulted dozens of underage girls at his mansion in the Upper East Side.
Federal prosecutors charged Epstein with running a sex-trafficking operation that lured dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14, to his New York home and a mansion in Palm Beach, Florida.
He is accused of engaging in sex acts with minors during naked massage sessions and paying them hundreds of dollars. He also asked some of these girls to recruit others.
“In this way, Epstein created a vast network of underage victims for him to sexually exploit in locations including New York and Palm Beach,” read the indictment.
The New York Times reports:
He is charged with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy. He faces a combined maximum sentence of up to 45 years in prison if convicted. Prosecutors are also seeking the forfeiture of Mr. Epstein’s townhouse on East 71st Street.
The new charges are a revival of a yearslong case against Mr. Epstein, who faced similar accusations involving girls who told the police they were brought to his mansion in South Florida and assaulted.
That case unraveled in 2008 after Mr. Epstein was offered a secret plea deal by federal prosecutors, one of whom is now in President Trump’s cabinet.
In the era of #MeToo, Mr. Epstein’s case had remained stubbornly unresolved. For years, women have accused Mr. Epstein, in civil lawsuits and in complaints to the police, of preying on them when they were underage. Still, for more than a decade he was shielded from federal charges by his secret plea deal.
This case has also brought Donald Trump’s Labor Secretary, Alexander Acosta, into the spotlight as he had a role in facilitating Epstein’s plea deal.
When Acosta was United States attorney in the Southern District of Florida, he privately met with a lawyer for Mr. Epstein, and his office allowed Epstein’s team to dictate many of the plea deal’s terms.
In February, a federal judge ruled that Florida prosecutors had broken the law by not keeping Mr. Epstein’s victims informed of the plea deal. The Justice Department has also opened an inquiry into how the case was handled.
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