A criminal indictment against billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein was unsealed by federal prosecutors in New York on Monday ahead of his expected first appearance in a New York City federal court.
Federal prosecutors detailed a two-count indictment of the 66-year-old hedge fund manager and registered sex offender who was arrested Saturday, charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors., Fox News reported.
(Video: CBS News)
“The victims described herein were as young as 14 years old at the time they were abused…and were, for various reasons, often particularly vulnerable to exploitation,” court documents stated. “Epstein intentionally sought out minors and knew that many of his victims were in fact under the age of 18.”
A “vast network” was allegedly created by Epstein between 2002 and 2005, allowing him to “sexually exploit and abuse dozens of underage girls” as well as pay the victims to recruit other underage girls.
Epstein “worked and conspired with others, including employees and associates” to recruit the underage girls and schedule the sexual encounters with him at his Upper East Side home in New York City as well as his estate in Palm Beach, Florida, prosecutors alleged.
They also revealed how the victims in Epstein’s Manhattan mansion would be escorted to a room where they were asked to give him a massage.
“The victims, who were as young as 14 years of age, were told by Epstein or other individuals to partially or fully undress before beginning the ‘massage,'” prosecutors wrote. “During the encounter, Epstein would escalate the nature and scope of physical contact with his victims to include, among other things, sex acts such as groping and direct and indirect contact with the victim’s genitals.”
Epstein or one of his associates or employees would pay the girls hundreds of dollars after the encounters and prosecutors say he allegedly “incentivized the victims” by paying them for any other girl they brought to him
“In so doing, Epstein maintained a steady supply of new victims to exploit,” prosecutors said.
Epstein’s New York City mansion could be seized by federal prosecutors according to the unsealed indictment, which stated that he “shall forfeit” any property “used to commit or facilitate” crimes in the alleged charges, CNN reported.
“It’s a great step forward. This one is something that was a long time coming — too long,” attorney David Boies, who represents three women alleging they were abused by Epstein as minors, told CNN, which noted that the indictment doesn’t refer to any of the alleged victims by name.
“This indictment is important on two levels: first and most important it is a big step towards getting justice for the many victims of Epstein’s sex trafficking ring. Second, it’s also important because it is a correction of what should have happened 10 years ago. The Justice Department is now doing what it can to make things right,” he added.
The charges revealed Monday against Epstein carry a maximum sentence of 45 years in prison, Geoffrey Berman, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said.
“The charges are very serious, and they carry a maximum of 45 years in jail, which to someone of Epstein’s age is basically a life sentence,” he said, noting that Epstein is a “significant flight risk.”
“We think he has every incentive to try and flee the jurisdiction. And when you have two planes and you live much of the year abroad, you know, we think that’s a very real risk,” he said.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 8, 2019
He also called for any other victims or anyone with information about the billionaire to come forward.
Geoffrey Berman, SDNY U.S. Attorney: “If you believe you are a victim of this man, Jeffrey Epstein, or if you have evidence or information relating to the conduct alleged in the indictment today, we want to hear from you. ” https://t.co/o9aiEZvQPD pic.twitter.com/UvyoOKoOVD
— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 8, 2019
“If you believe you are a victim of this man, Jeffrey Epstein, or you have evidence or information relating to the conduct alleged in the indictment unsealed today, we want to hear from you,” Berman said.
He also noted that his office is “not bound” by the plea deal Epstein secured over a decade ago when he was prosecuted for similar crimes in Florida and given only a 13-month sentence.
“Jeffrey Epstein entered into a non-prosecution agreement with the Southern District of Florida,” Berman said. “That agreement only binds, by its terms, only binds the Southern District of Florida. The Southern District of New York is not bound by that agreement and is not a signatory to that agreement.”