Federal prosecutors in New York charged wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein on Monday with sex trafficking charges, alleging he abused dozens of underage girls as young as 14. The indictment comes 11 years after Epstein cut a deal with attorneys in Florida to avoid a similar charge.
Epstein was charged with one count of sex trafficking conspiracy and one count of sex trafficking with underage females. The 66-year-old investment manager was arrested in New York Saturday.
“As set forth herein, over the course of many years, Jeffrey Epstein, the defendant, sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls at his homes in Manhattan, New York, and Palm Beach, Florida, among other locations,” the indictment reads.
The indictment alleges that Epstein recruited girls between 2002 and 2005 to “engage in sex acts with him, after which he would give the victims hundreds of dollars in cash,” and that he would “maintain and increase his supply of victims” by paying them to “recruit additional girls to be similarly abused,” in his New York and Florida homes.
The indictment alleges that through this process, Epstein “created a vast network of underage victims” for him to engage with in sexual exploitation. The indictment alleges that some victims were as young as 14 when Epstein sexually abused and recruited them in both New York and Florida.
“Jeffrey Epstein, the defendant, knew that many of his New York victims were underage, including because certain victims told him their age. Further, once these minor victims were recruited, many were abused by Epstein on multiple subsequent occasions at the New York Residence,” the indictment reads.
The current case is being pursued by the Southern District of New York.
“In the world of trial lawyers, we refer to the Southern District of New York as the most powerful law firm in the world,” CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman said on Monday. “They do not go forward with a case unless they have investigated it top to bottom and they are convinced they will get a conviction.”
The well-connected billionaire has admitted to sex abuse in the past. In 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty in Florida to “soliciting and procuring” an underage person for “prostitution.” Court documents reveal “the charges stemmed from sexual activity with privately hired masseuses.”
Epstein’s prior guilty plea was part of a deal with prosecutors, who included President Trump’s future Secretary of Labor, Alex Acosta. Epstein spent 13 months in a Florida county jail and had to register as a sex offender but faced immunity from federal prosecution. In February, a federal judge ruled that Acosta and other federal prosecutors broke the law by concealing a plea agreement from more than 30 underage women who were allegedly sexually abused by Epstein.
Some of Epstein’s friends include former President Bill Clinton, Great Britain’s Prince Andrew and President Trump.
Mr. Trump was quoted by New York Magazine in 2002, saying of 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.”