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Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein is Accused of Luring Girls to His Manhattan Mansion and Abusing Them

The new charges against 66-year-old Epstein may include running a sex-trafficking operation and luring dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14, to his Upper East Side home.

New York Times

Updated:July 8, 2019, 11:22 AM IST
Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein is Accused of Luring Girls to His Manhattan Mansion and Abusing Them
Outside Jeffrey Epstein's home on East 71st Street in New York on July 7, 2019. (Yana Paskova/The New York Times)

New York: Federal prosecutors appear to have resurrected a federal sex crimes case against the billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein by focusing on accusations that he sexually assaulted girls at his mansion in Manhattan, more than a decade after a widely criticised plea deal shielded him from similar charges in Florida.

Federal prosecutors are expected to unseal the new charges Monday accusing Epstein, 66, of running a sex-trafficking operation that lured dozens of underage girls — some as young as 14 — to his Upper East Side home, according to three law enforcement officials.

He was arrested on Saturday at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, after arriving on a private flight from France, two law enforcement officials said. The sex trafficking charges carry a combined maximum sentence of up to 45 years in prison.

The new charges are a revival of a years-long case against Epstein, who faced similar accusations involving girls who told police they were brought to his mansion in South Florida and assaulted. That case unravelled in 2008 after Epstein was offered a secret plea deal by federal prosecutors, one of whom is now in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet.

In fact, Epstein has long had links to a wide array of high-profile officials, celebrities and business moguls — from Trump to Bill Clinton to Prince Andrew.

In the era of #MeToo, Epstein’s case had remained stubbornly unresolved. For years, women have accused Epstein, in lawsuits and in complaints to police, of preying on them when they were underage. Still, for more than a decade he was shielded from federal charges by his secret plea deal.

That will end Monday, two law enforcement officials said.

Epstein is charged with using his vast network of contacts and associates to bring a constant stream of underage girls to his Manhattan town house, one law enforcement official said. He is accused of shuttling the girls between the town house and his home in Palm Beach, Florida, paying them in cash and urging them to recruit other underage girls to visit his home.

The girls were initially recruited to give him massages. But he frequently escalated the encounters into sex acts, a law enforcement source said, including groping and touching the girls’ genitals. This pattern continued from at least 2002 to 2005, the source said.

Ali Watkins and Vivian Wang c.2019 New York Times News Service

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