New York Times
Investigators seized nude photographs of underage girls from the Manhattan townhouse of Jeffrey Epstein as part of a new investigation into allegations he exploited dozens of minors for sex, prosecutors revealed on Monday.
That detail was revealed by federal prosecutors in Manhattan on Monday as they made an appeal to other women who may have been abused as girls by Mr Epstein, who was charged with sex trafficking in an indictment unsealed on Monday.
“They deserve their day in court and we are proud to stand up for them by bringing this indictment,” the United States attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey Berman, said.
“This conduct, as alleged, went on for years and involved dozens of young girls, some as young as 14,” Mr Berman added.
The charges unsealed Monday by the Southern District of New York signal a prosecution that some of his accusers have been awaiting for years.
Accusations of pedophilia and sexual predation have dogged Mr Epstein for decades. And now, in the #MeToo era, his case has been held up as a prime example of insulated, powerful men avoiding accountability.
For more than a decade, Mr Epstein, a 66-year-old hedge fund manager, has avoided a lengthy prison sentence, largely because of a controversial 2008 plea agreement his lawyers struck with prosecutors in 2008. That deal shielded Mr Epstein from federal charges in Florida.
Under the agreement, Mr Epstein pleaded guilty to state prostitution charges and spent about a year in a Palm Beach jail. He was permitted to leave the facility six days a week for 12 hours a day to work.
The agreement was negotiated in part by Alexander Acosta, a former federal prosecutor who is now President Trump’s secretary of labor.
Mr Epstein’s social circle is filled with other high-profile connections, including to former President Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew of Britain and a host of other socialities and celebrities.
In 2002, Mr.Trump described Mr. Epstein as “a terrific guy.”
“He’s a lot of fun to be with,” Mr Trump told New York Magazine. “It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”
Mr Epstein is accused of operating a sex trafficking scheme between 2002 and 2005 that, prosecutors say, involved dozens of underage girls, who were shuttled between his Upper East Side mansion and his palatial compound in Palm Beach, Fla.
Using employees and associates, prosecutors say, the financier preyed on vulnerable teenagers, luring them to his homes and then asking them to give him massages.
The encounters would quickly escalate into sex acts, prosecutors say, with Mr Epstein paying the girls hundreds of dollars in cash and encouraging them to recruit other girls.
The charges unsealed Monday mirror charges that federal prosecutors had prepared in Miami against Mr Epstein more than a decade ago. In 2005, law enforcement officials there investigated Mr Epstein after the parents of one of his underage accusers reported an incident to the police.
As first reported in The Miami Herald last year, prosecutors had prepared a 53-page indictment accusing Mr Epstein of being a sexual predator. But those charges were shelved in 2008 after an eleventh-hour deal was reached between the United States attorney’s office in Miami and Mr Epstein’s lawyers.
The plea agreement granted Mr Epstein immunity from federal prosecution and let him plead guilty to two prostitution charges in state court. Federal prosecutors arranged for the plea deal to be kept secret from Mr Epstein’s accusers until it was finalized in court.
In April, a federal judge ruled that prosecutors had violated the law in offering the plea agreement without informing Mr Epstein’s accusers. The Justice Department also opened a probe into the incident in February.