Jeffrey Epstein, the New York financier who faces charges of sexual abuse against underage female victims, including sex trafficking, was arraigned in a Lower Manhattan courtroom Monday afternoon, July 8.
Making his first court appearance, Epstein entered a plea of “Not Guilty” to charges of sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. If convicted, Epstein could face up to 45 years in federal prison.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman announced the charges Monday morning, at a press briefing. The U.S. attorney’s office released an indictment that alleges Epstein coordinated a sex-trafficking ring, between 2002 and 2005, that paid dozens of underage minors, some as young as 14 years old, to perform sex acts at his residences in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida.
The 14-page indictment also alleges that Epstein utilized employees and associates to recruit the girls for sex, some of whom, in turn, were paid to recruit other girls. District Attorney Berman alleges, “In this way, Epstein created a vast network of underage victims for him to sexually exploit, often on a daily basis.”
Epstein, age 66, was apprehended on Saturday, July 6, at the Teterboro Airport in New Jersey while aboard his private jet. Later Saturday evening, federal agents executed a search of Epstein’s Upper Eastside mansion and seized numerous lewd photographs of young women, some of whom appeared to be underage, according to a court filing made by prosecutors.
Epstein is currently being held at Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Manhattan. His next bail hearing is set for July 15, giving his defense attorneys time to propose an arrangement for Epstein to be released on bail.
Prosecutors have argued that Epstein’s wealth and international residences make him a potential flight risk.
Epstein’s Criminal Record in Florida
Epstein, who rose to prominence as an investment banker at Bear Stearns before starting his own hedge fund J. Epstein & Co, pleaded guilty to two state prostitution charges in 2008 and served a 13-month sentence, with work leave, in Florida. A federal investigation, at the time, had identified 36 underage victims, some of whom were given financial restitution. Epstein registered as a sex offender.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Florida has come under scrutiny for giving Epstein a non-prosectuion deal that nullified federal charges, similar to those issued Monday in New York, and that effectively protected alleged co-conspirators in the sex-trafficking ring.
New York federal prosecutors are bringing their case, despite the prior non-prosecution agreement, with the expectation that the U.S. attorney’s office in New York is not bound by an agreement made by the U.S. attorney’s office in Florida.
Epstein is known to have socialized with a number of high-profile individuals and celebrities, including former President Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.