Published: Wed, July 10, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein charged with sex trafficking

Billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein charged with sex trafficking

Berman said Epstein allegedly sexually exploited dozens of minor girls at his homes in Manhattan, New York and Palm Beach, Florida, between 2002 and 2005.

According to the indictment, the former hedge fund manager "intentionally sought out minors and knew that many of his victims were in fact under the age of 18, including because, in some instances, minor victims expressly told him their age".

The indictment from U.S. District Court in the Southern District of NY accuse the 66-year-old of sexually exploiting and abusing dozens of minor girls at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida, among other locations, between 2002 and 2005.

Epstein's arrest Saturday also came just days after a federal appeals court in NY ordered the unsealing of almost 2,000 pages of records in a since-settled defamation case involving Epstein.

Jeffrey Epstein has hobnobbed with some of the world's most powerful people during his jet-setting life. The maximum possible sentence for conviction on those charges is 45 years.

Berman, the U.S. Attorney, was asked by reporters why the plea agreement negotiated in Florida did not apply to NY.

The alleged victims "deserve their day in court", Berman said.

In 2008, when Epstein first became the subject of a federal investigation and entered a plea deal that earned him freedom at the time, Acosta held the position of an attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

Epstein's case - at least until Trump was elected president - was the most iconic recent example of how much abuse a wealthy and powerful man can get away with.

"He's a lot of fun to be with", Trump was quoted as saying.

Earlier this year, a Florida judge ruled that federal prosecutors broke the law by not informing Epstein's victims of the plea deal at the time. The plea deal stated Epstein serve 13 month prison sentence but was allowed work release six days a week.

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Epstein was arrested on Saturday night at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, where he had returned on his private plane from Paris.

Geoffrey Berman, the US attorney for the Southern District of NY, said he would ask that Epstein be detained until trial.

Schumer said "the president needs to answer for this" - a reference to Epstein's frequent visits to Mar-a-Lago - and added that "I don't not recall" was "not an acceptable answer in this case".

The women said they hoped Epstein this time stays behind bars permanently.

"The alleged behaviour shocks the conscience", he said.

Acosta has defended the agreement as appropriate, though the White House said in February that it was looking into his handling of the case.

The White House did not respond to repeated questions Monday about when Trump was last in contact with Epstein or if he had witnessed Epstein engage in illegal activity with underage girls.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Labor on Sunday declined to comment on Epstein's arrest. Often they would be invited to carry out a massage nude before being subjected to sexual abuse, it says.

The case deals with allegations that Epstein, a 66-year-old hedge fund manager, paid underage girls for massages and molested them at his homes in Florida and NY, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press.

FILE PHOTO - U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta takes part in a forum called Generation Next at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2018. Even so, the deal only applies to federal prosecutors in the Southern District of Florida.

The Justice Department is investigating whether government lawyers committed professional misconduct in the Florida case.

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