New York, NY – A federal indictment unsealed on Monday alleged that billionaire Jeffrey Epstein preyed on “dozens” of underage girls in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida, and used his victims to create and maintain a “vast network” by paying them to recruit new underage girls for him to sexually abuse.
Then he also paid his victims hundreds of dollars to recruit more underage girls for him to sexually abuse.
“In so doing, Epstein maintained a steady supply of new victims to exploit,” federal prosecutors said, according to FOX News.
The indictment said that between 2002 and 2005, Epstein built a network that allowed him to continuously “sexually exploit and abuse dozens of underage girls.”
“This allowed Epstein to create an ever-expanding web of new victims,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman told reporters at a press conference on Monday morning.
Prosecutors said that Epstein or his assistants invited underage girls to his Manhattan residence to give the billionaire a massage, FOX News reported.
“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,'” the indictment read. “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 was arrested at 5 p.m. on Saturday “without incident” at the Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney told reporters.
Berman said federal prosecutors had been tipped off to the billionaire’s return from Paris on his private jet, and took Epstein into custody as soon as the plane landed in the jurisdiction of the Southern District of New York.
He said investigators searched Epstein’s New York mansion after his arrest on July 6 and found nude pictures “of what appeared to be underage girls,” FOX News reported.
Epstein had been on the radar of federal authorities and the subject of investigation for years.
During the 2016 Presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton fended off numerous questions about her and former President Bill Clinton’s travel to Epstein’s private Caribbean island aboard his private jet known as the “Lolita Express.”
In 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty in Florida to procuring a person under 18 for prostitution and felony solicitation of prostitution, according to his plea agreement, CNBC reported.
He was sentenced to 13 months in prison but spent the bulk of his sentence out on work release or in the private wing of the prison.
Epstein signed a non-prosecution deal with U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami that required him to register as a sex offender in Florida, CNBC reported.
The prosecutor who made that deal, Alex Acosta, is now Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor.
In February, the U.S. Department of Justice began investigating how Epstein’s case was handled by federal prosecutors at the time, CNBC reported.
That deal is currently being challenged in federal court in Florida, FOX News reported.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra of Florida recently ruled Epstein’s victims should have been consulted prior to making the deal.
The judge is now determining whether the plea deal should be invalidated, FOX News reported.
There are no double-jeopardy issues regarding the recent charges because the 2008 case involved Florida law and the current indictment is in connection with federal statutes.
Prosecutors have said they consider Epstein to be a serious flight risk and have asked a judge to hold the billionaire pending trial, FOX News reported.