Financier Jeffrey Epstein has been arrested in New York for alleged years of sex trafficking underage girls. It comes more than a decade after he struck a plea deal with prosecution.
Epstein was arrested on Saturday evening, multiple US media outlets reported, citing law enforcement sources. The billionaire sex offender, who served 13 months in an ‘open-door’ prison for abusing scores of underage girls after his lawyers struck a non-prosecution agreement in 2007, might now have to spend the rest of his life in prison.
The Daily Beast reported that Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. If convicted on both charges, the 66-year-old might be sentenced to up to 45 years behind bars.
The indictment alleges that as many as 40 girls, or more, had been brought to Epstein’s luxurious properties, primarily his lavish Palm Beach estate in Miami. While some of the girls lured by Epstein’s intermediaries were local, others were flown in from as far away as Eastern Europe. The court papers also allege that some of the girls, after being molested or sexually abused by Epstein, then became recruiters themselves.
Officials speaking on condition of anonymity said the prosecution would argue that Epstein was aware that the girls were minors, some as young as 14. Epstein is alleged to have had girls invited under the pretext of massage, paid them cash, and sexually abused them.
Epstein’s sex trafficking crimes allegedly took place between 2002 and 2005. His illegal sexual exploits have not been a secret for years, but have been hushed up by federal attorneys as part of the 2007 non-prosecution deal. Under the deal, Epstein agreed to plead guilty to only one minor charge of soliciting prostitution in exchange for dropping the other charges included in a 53-page indictment which has never been revealed.
The victims of the ‘Epstein pedophile ring’ were kept in the dark about the deal. Earlier this year, a US judge ruled the agreement was the result of a gross violation of federal law by the prosecution, as it deprived the victims of the ability to contest it. The deal was negotiated between Epstein’s lawyers and then-Southern District Attorney for Florida Alexander Acosta. Acosta has since made quite a career, becoming secretary of labor in the Trump administration, and has denied any wrongdoing in the high-profile case.
Speculation has been rife that Epstein not only abused the girls himself, but also “loaned” them out to his influential and affluent friends, including Prince Andrew and Alan Dershowitz, who have both denied any involvement, as well as Bill Clinton and Donald Trump.
Epstein is expected to appear before court on Monday.