Billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein was finally charged with running a sex-trafficking operation in New York a decade after similar charges Epstein faced in Florida and years of public speculation.
What We Know:
- Federal prosecutors pressed Epstein with new charges Monday, accusing him of sexually assaulting girls and running a sex-trafficking operation through his mansions in New York City and Palm Beach, Florida. The 66-year-old is accused of paying for sexual relations with minors as young as 14 and working to recruit minors to his operation. Epstein was arrested Saturday and held in federal custody until he appeared before a federal magistrate Monday.
- Epstein has long faced suspicion of molesting girls and narrowly avoided criminal charges in 2007 with a Palm Beach investigation. Epstein’s first investigation in 2005 when the step-mother of a 14-year-old victim of Epstein’s told police her child had been molested by Epstein; the investigation later included five more victims. A controversial plea deal negotiated by the Trump’s Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta resulted in merely 13 months in county jail and registration as a sex offender for Epstein pleading guilty to lesser charges of soliciting prostitution.
- The Miami Herald published an investigation of Epstein’s controversial plea deal in February 2018, again bringing Epstein’s troubled history to the fore; the Justice Department subsequently opened an investigation on Epstein’s 2007 charges. The focus of this investigation was “allegations that Department attorneys may have committed professional misconduct” in resolving Epstein’s case.
- Epstein’s accusers filed lawsuits and were set to testify in court for the first time just days after the release of the Miami Herald report in 2018 until Epstein settled the charges brought against him. In response to victims’ lawsuits, Epstein has claimed his sexual acts with these minors were consensual and that he “reasonably believed” the women were 18 years old.
- Epstein’s case indicted many high-profile celebrities and politicians as his “little black book” of contacts’ addresses was released in 2015 including the names of Epstein’s controversial lawyer Alan Dershowitz, now-President Donald Trump and former President Bill Clinton which stirred speculation about these men’s involvement with Epstein’s sex-trafficking network.
- Trump has faced recent criticism for his public sympathy for Acosta in the wake of Epstein’s charges and historic defense of Epstein’s character. Though Trump claims now he was never a fan of Epstein, he told New York Magazine “I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years…terrific guy…It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”
Epstein may finally be brought to justice for his long-suspected sex-crimes against minors.