Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein was charged with sex trafficking involving dozens of girls — some as young as 14-years-old — between 2002 to 2005, as well as conspiracy, according to a two-count indictment unsealed Monday morning.
Epstein, arrested over the weekend, was expected to make his first court appearance on the new charges in New York City on Monday.
The case deals with allegations that Epstein, a 66-year-old hedge fund manager who once hobnobbed with some of the world’s most powerful people, paid underage girls for massages and molested them at his homes in Florida and New York.
Epstein’s arrest, first reported by The Daily Beast, came amid increased scrutiny of the 2008 non-prosecution deal that allowed Epstein to plead guilty to lesser state charges while maintaining a jet-set lifestyle, which includes homes in Paris and the U.S. Virgin Islands and a pricy Bentley.
According to court records in Florida, authorities say at least 40 underage girls were brought into Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion for what turned into sexual encounters after female fixers looked for suitable girls locally and in Eastern Europe and other parts of the world.
Some girls were also allegedly brought to Epstein’s homes in New York City, New Mexico, and a private Caribbean island, according to those court documents.
“During the encounter, Epstein would escalate the nature and scope of physical contact with his victim to include, among other things, sex acts such as groping and direct and indirect contact with the victim’s genitals,” alleges the indictment unsealed in New York.
“Epstein typically would also masturbate during these sexualized encounters, ask victims to touch him while he masturbated, and touch victims’ genitals with his hands or with sex toys,” it reads.
The charges carry a minimum of 10 years in prison if the billionaire is found guilty. At a press conference Monday, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said federal prosecutors will seek to hold Epstein without bail.
“It’s been a long time coming—it’s been too long coming,” David Boies, an attorney who represents a pair of Epstein accusers, said in a statement to the Daily Beast. “It is an important step towards getting justice for the many victims of Mr. Epstein’s sex trafficking enterprise.
“We hope that prosecutors will not stop with Mr. Epstein because there were many other people who participated with him and made the sex trafficking possible,” added Boies.
Under the deal, overseen by former Miami U.S. Attorney and current Trump labor secretary Alexander Acosta, Epstein avoided a possible life sentence and served 13 months in jail after pleading guilty to Florida charges of soliciting and procuring a person under age 18 for prostitution.
The deal, examined in detail in a series of reports in the Miami Herald, is being challenged in Florida federal court. U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra of Florida ruled earlier this year that Epstein’s victims should have been consulted under federal law about the deal, and he is now weighing whether to invalidate the deal. Attorney Alan Dershowitz, the Herald Co., and author/filmmaker Michael Cernovich sought the unsealing of records in the case.
In a statement to Breitbart News, Cernovich hailed the latest developments around Epstein’s case, saying: “This victory shows that Andrew Breitbart’s spirit is alive and well,” said Cernovich. “The lawsuit to unseal the Jeff Epstein records came from a citizen journalist and was ignored by the D.C. media class. Never back down and never give up.”
The Associated Press contributed to his report.