In an indictment which can be found here, federal prosecutors accused financier Jeffrey Epstein of sex trafficking dozens of minors in two states between 2002 and 2005. The indictment also accuses the multimillionaire of using his massive fortune to, “create a vast network of underage victims for him to sexually exploit.”
Prosecutors believe Epstein paid girls for massages that turned into sexual acts and then—in a sort-of pyramid scheme—paid them even more money to fetch him new victims. He was arrested at Teterboro Airport on July 6 in New Jersey by the FBI-NYPD Crimes Against Children Task Force, after arriving on a private jet from France. He has been denied bail pending the federal sexual abuse charges, U.S. District Judge Richard Berman announced. Epstein has pleaded not guilty.
Back in 2005, Epstein essentially received a slap on the wrist back for a widely-criticized plea deal involving similar allegations of molestation in Florida. His case has faced new scrutiny in the #MeToo era as an example of a powerful and rich man avoiding accountability for his alleged transgressions. Epstein was found dead in his prison cell in Manhattan August 10. Here's everything you need to know.
Epstein, a multimillionaire financier and investor, has a fortune estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars
The money manager parlayed his success in business to connect with important politicians and socialites, including friendships with Bill Clinton and Donald Trump.
"I've known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy," our president said in a 2002 interview with New York magazine. "He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life."
Archival footage from NBC shows them partying at Mar-a-Lago in November 1992. Trump appears to tell Epstein that one of the women dancing near them is "hot" before whispering something to Epstein that makes him laugh.
Trump has since spoken out against Epstein, telling reporters at the White House that he knew Epstein “like everybody in Palm Beach knew him.” He said, “I had a falling out with him. I haven’t spoken to him in 15 years. I was not a fan of his, that I can tell you.”
FUN FACT: Alexander Acosta, the U.S. Attorney in Miami that cut a secret deal to keep Jeffrey Epstein out of jail and seal all the evidence was Trump’s mysterious pick for Secretary of Labor.Coincidences take a heap of plannin’.July 7, 2019
The allegations against Epstein date back to 2005, when a 14-year-old girl and her parents claimed that Epstein molested her at a mansion in Palm Beach
The girl and her parents claimed that one of her classmates from Royal Palm Beach High School in Palm Beach took her to a large house to give Epstein a massage, "in exchange for money," according to Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown, who exposed Epstein last November in a piece titled "Perversion of Justice."
He came under investigation in 2005 and, according to NBC, Palm Beach investigators spoke with five alleged victims and 17 different witnesses. Per NBC:
The investigative files alleged Epstein brought the girls to his house under the guise that they would give him massages, which police said would turn sexual. Some of the girls told police Epstein would use sex toys on them while he got a "massage." In another instance, one said she was paid to have sex with one of Epstein's female assistants, and several girls reported that Epstein touched their vaginas while he masturbated.
Joseph Recarey, a detective on the case, described Epstein's pattern of abuse as being like a "sexual pyramid scheme." Epstein allegedly paid underage girls anywhere from $200 to $1,000 for a "massage." Then, he offered them more money to bring him more girls.
"I just felt overwhelmed with joy, I never felt this day would come,'' says Courtney Wild, Jane Doe No. 1, reacts to public outcry against how Jeffrey Epstein's crimes against her and other underage girls were covered up. pic.twitter.com/vuhzAyAhTEDecember 4, 2018
In Brown's piece Perversion of Justice, she identified 80 women who claim they were molested or sexually abused by Epstein. A woman named Courtney Wild says she recruited 70 or 80 girls for Epstein.
Epstein has said that any encounters he had with his accusers were consensual. He claims that he believed they were all 18.
Epstein infamously avoided federal charges and a possible life sentence
According to Vox, the FBI had a 53-page indictment ready in 2007 that would have likely put Epstein behind bars for life. Instead, he was punished with just 13 months in a comfy county jail, thanks to a deal signed by then U.S. attorney for Miami, Alexander Acosta, who is now President Trump’s secretary of labor. The deal essentially concealed Epstein’s crimes and the number of people involved.
Epstein’s deal, called a “non-prosecution agreement,” granted immunity to “any potential co-conspirators,” meaning that if any of Epstein’s powerful friends were involved in his crimes, they would face no consequences. And Acosta agreed that the deal would be kept secret from the victims, preventing them from showing up in court to try to challenge it.
In December 2018, Epstein reached a settlement in a new lawsuit set for trial in Florida, which would have seen several of his alleged victims testify for the first time. Just one month later, a federal judge ruled that prosecutors under Acosta violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, "by not letting more than 30 identified victims know of the deal so they would have a chance to oppose it," according to Reuters. However, Federal prosecutors said there was no legal basis for invalidating the agreement.
Epstein was arrested at a New Jersey airport on July 6
An indictment unsealed on Monday in federal court in New York, showed that he was charged with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy. It also accuses Epstein of using his wealth to “create a vast network of underage victims for him to sexually exploit.”
The indictment covers alleged transgressions from 2002 and 2005 that involved girls as young as 14.
According to The Daily Beast, federal prosecutors also revealed that FBI investigators discovered nude images of girls in a weekend raid of Epstein’s Manhattan Upper East Side townhouse. According to the outlet, prosecutors wrote the following in a memo requesting Epstein be jailed until his trial: “The defendant, a registered sex offender, is not reformed, he is not chastened, he is not repentant. Rather, he is a continuing danger to the community and an individual who faces devastating evidence supporting deeply serious charges.”
He has pleaded not guilty to federal sex trafficking charges. Federal prosecutors have made an appeal for any women abused by Epstein to come forward.
“They deserve their day in court and we are proud to stand up for them by bringing this indictment,” said U.S. attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey S. Berman, according to The New York Times.
Since then, several other women have come forward with claims of abuse
Including Jennifer Araoz, now 32, who spoke out on the Today show about the alleged incident, which she says happened back in 2002.
Araoz says that Epstein groomed her starting in the fall of 2001, while she was attending a performing arts school called Talent Unlimited on Manhattan's Upper East Side. She was approached outside of the school by an unnamed brunette woman in her 20s, who invited her to Epstein's nearby mega-mansion townhouse.
“I was 14 years old,” Araoz told Today. “What the hell do you know when you’re that young?”
She was given alcohol and taken to Epstein. She left with an envelope containing $300. A few weeks after that first encounter, she alleges that she returned to his townhouse, where he asked her to give him a massage in his underwear, while he masturbated.
“I didn’t know if he would get angry or if I didn’t listen what the repercussions would have been,” she said. “So I kind of just followed. I was so young, so I didn’t know better.”
When she turned 15, she claims he forced her to have sex with him.
"She was so anxious but I couldn’t figure out why,” Araoz’s mother told Today. “The anxiety got so bad that she couldn’t function, and I urged her to go to a doctor.”
He was denied bail
According to Huffington Post, prosecutors labeled Epstein an “extraordinary” flight risk. Judge Richard Berman rejected a bid for Epstein to be released on a bond of up to $100 million. “Starting with my conclusions, the government’s application for continued remand is hereby granted and the defense’s application for pretrial release is respectfully hereby denied,” Berman said during thehearing.
According to CNBC:
Epstein’s lawyers had asked Berman to release him on house arrest in the sprawling Upper East Side townhouse, with conditions that included round-the-clock monitoring and an electronic tracking device.
They had originally proposed a bail option worth about $77 million, in which Epstein would put up his townhouse as collateral. They also offered to include Epstein’s private jet in the bail package.
But federal prosecutors said that Epstein’s vast wealth, which they valued at more than $500 million, and the severity of his potential sentence made him an extreme flight risk.
Epstein is appealing a federal judge's decision. According to The New York Post, "a spokesman for the US Attorney’s office in Manhattan said Tuesday that the government will file to oppose Epstein’s appeal."
Epstein was found dead in his cell on August 10
On August 10, 2019, The New York Times reported that Epstein was found dead in his cell at the Manhattan Correctional Center on Saturday morning. A law enforcement official released a statement saying that Epstein had died by suicide while he was in jail awaiting his trial on sex trafficking charges. He had attempted suicide almost two weeks earlier when he was discovered with bruises on his neck. According to the Associated Press, it was unclear at the time whether the injury was self-inflicted or the result of an assault.
Rose is a Staff Writer at ELLE covering culture, news, and women's issues. She is an accomplished and compassionate storyteller who excels in obtaining exclusive interviews and unearthing compelling features.
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