- Wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein was charged on Monday with sex trafficking and conspiracy.
- In the indictment, prosecutors allege that Epstein molested girls as young as 14 in a sex trafficking operation that ran from at least 2002 to 2005.
- Since Epstein’s July 6 arrest, at least a dozen more women have been added to a long list of more than 80 who have accused Epstein of sexual abuse and sex trafficking.
- On Friday, Trump’s Labor Secretary Alex Acosta stepped down from his role amid backlash over the widely criticized plea agreement he orchestrated for Epstein when he was facing similar allegations in 2008.
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Jeffrey Epstein was charged on Monday with sex trafficking and conspiracy – more than a decade after sexual abuse allegations first surfaced against the wealthy financier in 2005.
Since news broke of his arrest, the world has reflected on prior sexual abuse allegations against Epstein, as well as his ties to wealthy social circles that include President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton, and Britain’s Prince Andrew.
On Friday, Trump’s Labor Secretary Alex Acosta stepped down from his role amid backlash over the widely criticized plea agreement he orchestrated for Epstein in 2008, when the financier was facing allegations of sexually abusing more than 30 underage girls.
Since July 6, at least a dozen more women have been added to a long list of more than 80 who have now accused Epstein of sexual abuse and sex trafficking them when they were girls.
Here are the key points of Epstein’s current sex trafficking case that are worth knowing.
Jeffrey Epstein was arrested on sex trafficking charges and has pleaded not guilty
- REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Epstein, 66, was arrested at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey on Saturday.
He was charged on Monday with sex trafficking and conspiracy. In the indictment, prosecutors alleged that Epstein molested girls as young as 14 in a sex trafficking operation that ran from at least 2002 to 2005.
Unsealed court documents revealed that a grand jury charged Epstein with the sexual exploitation and abuse of “dozens of minor girls.” Prosecutors said the abuse took place in homes Epstein owned in New York City and Palm Beach, Florida.
Prosecutors alleged in an indictment that Epstein paid dozens of underage girls for massages and molested them in his homes. He also is accused of paying underage girls to recruit others, creating a “vast network” meant to “maintain and increase his supply of victims,” according to charging documents.
Prosecutors also allege that Epstein directed his employees to entice, recruit, and pay underage victims.
Epstein has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he could face up to 45 years in prison.
Nearly 100 women have come forward with allegations against Epstein
- REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Allegations first surfaced against Epstein in 2005, when a 14-year-old girl accused the financier of molesting her in a Palm Beach home.
She said she and a female acquaintance from Royal Palm Beach High School went to the home together, and once there she gave Epstein a massage in exchange for money.
The accusation launched a police investigation into Epstein, in which detectives said alleged victims told them that they were paid anywhere between $200 and $1,000 for massages, according to NBC News.
Police said the massages would turn sexual and girls were molested, according to NBC.
While working on an exposé published by the Miami Herald last year, journalist Julie K. Brown identified about 80 women who said they were sexually abused by the financier between 2001 and 2005, according to The New York Times.
Eight of the women agreed to be interviewed for the story, which Brown spent 18 months working on with Emily Michot, a visual journalist at The Herald.
Epstein has a web of high-powered friends, including Trump and Prince Andrew
- Davidoff Studios/Getty Images
Through his career as a high-level financier, Epstein befriended people in high places and hosted scores of famous people on his private plane, dubbed the “Lolita Express.”
Trump once called Epstein a “terrific guy,” and, as neighbors in Florida, they attended the same parties and were often photographed together. Trump has distanced himself from Epstein since the financier’s arrest, saying: “I had a falling out with him. I haven’t spoken to him in 15 years. I was not a fan of his, that I can tell you.”
Buckingham Palace has never denied a friendship between Epstein and Andrew, but has repeatedly denied he had sexual relations with Roberts Giuffre or any other underage girls. Andrew also issued a denial.
Former President Bill Clinton was a frequent flyer on Epstein’s plane.
Clinton released a statement on Monday saying he “knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those with which he has been recently charged in New York.”
Epstein took a secret plea agreement in 2008 arranged by current labor secretary Alex Acosta
In 2008, while facing sexual abuse allegations, Epstein secretly cut a deal with prosecutors in an agreement approved by then-Miami US Attorney Alexander Acosta, who went on to become Trump’s labor secretary.
Under the non-prosecution agreement, Epstein agreed to plead guilty to state charges in Florida of soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution.
The plea allowed him to avoid a possible life sentence in prison, and he instead served 13 months in a work-release program, made payments to victims, and registered as a sex offender.
Epstein’s victims were not informed of the deal ahead of time, and in February, a judge ruled that the deal violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act.
Acosta announced his resignation on Friday, amid backlash over the deal he made nearly a decade ago.
“I thought the right thing was to step aside,” Acosta told reporters, according to Bloomberg.
In his resignation letter to the president, Acosta wrote, “You have made America great again.”
Epstein’s decade-old plea deal could affect his current case
- Uma Sanghvi/Palm Beach Post via REUTERS
Epstein’s lawyers argue that the phrasing of his 2008 non-prosecution agreement in Florida could affect his current sex trafficking case.
According to the Associated Press, the agreement states: “Epstein seeks to resolve globally his state and federal criminal liability….”
Normally a non-prosecution agreement applies to the federal district where a case is being brought, but Epstein’s lawyers argue that because of the use “reserve globally,” the agreement covered all US federal judicial districts, meaning Epstein wouldn’t face charges elsewhere.
Prosecutors in New York, however, say a second part of the agreement means the deal is limited to just Florida.
The second part reads, according to AP: “… on authority of R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, prosecution in this District for these offenses shall be deferred in favor of prosecution by the State of Florida.”
This week, Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said he believes that the non-prosecution agreement is binding only on federal prosecutors in Florida.
- Read more:
- Here’s everything we know about wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein and his alleged sex-trafficking operation
- A Manhattan mansion, a ranch in New Mexico, a private jet, and a black stuffed poodle on a Steinway. Here’s a look at the assets of Jeffrey Epstein.
- Here are all the politicians Jeffrey Epstein, the money manager arrested on charges of sex trafficking, has donated to
- Jeffrey Epstein ignored instructions to make regular police check-ins as a registered sex offender, and he was never punished