Updated 7/18/19 2:20 p.m. ET:
A federal judge denied bail for Jeffrey Epstein on Thursday, rejecting his plea to await trial in his Upper East Side mansion. Judge Richard M. Berman of Federal District Court in Manhattan, cited Epstein's danger to others, including "prospective victims." Prosecutors argued that the defendant poses a serious flight risk and argued that should he be granted bail that would indicate “special treatment."
Epstein will remain in detention pending trial.
See original story below.
Federal prosecutors unsealed a criminal indictment against billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein on Monday, accusing him of sex trafficking minors at his New York estate, years after similar charges against him in Palm Beach ended with a reprehensible plea deal.
According to the indictment, Mr. Epstein lured underage girls as young as 14-years-old to his home on the Upper East Side, where he paid them hundreds of dollars to engage in sexual acts with him. He's also accused of paying certain victims to recruit other underage girls, initially to provide "massages" to the defendant.
While developing this network of minor victims, Epstein allegedly "worked and conspired with others" including employees and associates who helped facilitate the trafficking by "contacting victims and scheduling their sexual encounters with Epstein." It remains unclear whether the two unnamed employees listed in the indictment are cooperating with authorities.
The alleged exploitation took place in both New York and Florida and began as early as 2002. Upon arriving at his residences, the victims would be escorted to the room where the "massage" would take place and be asked to partially undress before beginning. From there, Epstein escalated the encounters to include sexual abuse. Three victims are explicitly listed in the indictment, only named as Minor Victim-1, Minor Victim-2, and Minor Victim-3.
Epstein was arrested on Saturday at Teterboro Airport in Bergen County, New Jersey. The defendant is being charged with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy and faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted. Prosecutors are also seeking to confiscate Epstein's estate on East 71st Street in Manhattan. At a press conference on Monday, Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said that while FBI agents were searching Epstein's New York home, they seized "nude photographs of what appear to be underage girls."
In 2008, several victims accused Epstein of sexual assault at his mansion in Palm Beach. According to the Miami Herald, the defendant, who was 54 at the time the case reached the U.S. Attorney’s office, managed to emerge from the federal case relatively unscathed, as his lawyers put together a "remarkable" deal for him despite the physical evidence and multiple witnesses. The billionaire pled guilty to two felony prostitution charges and served only 13 months in a private wing in prison, and in exchange was guaranteed immunity in future federal sex-trafficking cases that could have "sent him to prison for life." The federal prosecutor who led the case and ultimately fostered Epstein's plea deal is now President Donald Trump's Labor Secretary.
The hedge fund manager, who has links to several high-profile individuals from Bill Clinton to the current president, allegedly engaged in the sexual exploitation between 2002 and 2005. In a statement on Monday, Berman said that despite the charges being linked to conduct that took place a number of years ago, the victims "are no less entitled to their day in court."
"Epstein exploited girls who were vulnerable to abuse, enticed them with cash payments, and escalated his conduct to include sex acts, often occurring at his residence on the Upper East Side of Manhattan,” he said. “While the charged conduct is from a number of years ago, the victims—then children and now young women—are no less entitled to their day in court. My Office is proud to stand up for these victims by bringing this indictment.”
In a statement to CNN, an attorney for three of Epstein's victims said his clients are "very gratified" by the indictments against the defendant. “It’s a great step forward. This one is something that was a long time coming—too long," he said. "It is a great step towards getting justice for these victims, and the prosecutors in New York deserve a lot of credit for putting this together."