Jeffrey Epstein charged with running sex trafficking ring
Multi-millionaire Jeffrey Epstein pleaded not guilty Monday after he was indicted on charges that he operated a sex trafficking ring in which he sexually abused dozens of underage girls.
We're wrapping up our live coverage, but in case you missed it, here are what you need to know about today's hearing:
- The arrest: Epstein, 66, was arrested Saturday night at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey aboard his private jet upon returning from Paris. Later that evening, federal agents executed a search warrant of Epstein's mansion in New York City and seized a "vast trove" of lewd photographs of young-looking women or girls, prosecutors said in a bail memorandum.
- The charges: He is charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. He faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted of the charges, which carry no mandatory minimum sentences.
- The indictment: According to the indictment, between 2002 and 2005, Epstein ran a trafficking enterprise in which he paid hundreds of dollars in cash to girls as young as 14 to have sex with him at his Upper East Side home and his estate in Palm Beach, worked with employees and associates to lure the girls to his residences and paid some of his victims to recruit other girls for him to abuse.
- What prosecutors said: Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement that, "In this way, Epstein created a vast network of underage victims for him to sexually exploit, often on a daily basis."
- What Epstein's attorney said: Reid Weingarten said the indictment was "essentially a do-over" of the Florida investigation. In that investigation, Epstein previously evaded similar charges when he secured a non-prosecution deal with federal prosecutors in Miami. Instead of facing federal charges, Epstein pleaded guilty to two state prostitution charges in 2008 and served just 13 months in prison. He also registered as a sex offender and paid restitution to the victims identified by the FBI.
- What's next: Epstein's bail hearing is set for July 15.
Multi-millionaire Jeffrey Epstein appeared in New York federal court Monday in connection with an indictment charging him with running a sex trafficking ring in which he sexually abused dozens of underage girls.
Artist Christine Cornell was in court and took this sketch of the hearing:
Attorney General William Barr said Monday that he is recused from the case involving multi-millionaire Jeffrey Epstein.
He told reporters in South Carolina one of the law firms that represented Epstein long ago was a firm Barr subsequently joined.
A senior administration official told CNN there was an internal administration review of Labor Secretary Alex Acosta's handling of the Jeffrey Epstein case in Florida.
The official was cautious in assessing Acosta's standing with the White House.
"We will wait and see what develops. This is obviously a significant event," the official said about the Epstein case. "We need to see what comes of it."
The official could not say whether that review had been completed.
In November, the Miami Herald reported Acosta, who was the US Attorney in Florida, had brokered a deal with one of Epstein's attorneys, where he pleaded to two state prostitution charges, ultimately serving only 13 months and avoiding a federal trial in 2008. He also registered as a sex offender and paid restitution to the victims identified by the FBI.
The deal allowed Epstein to avoid major repercussions even though a federal investigation had identified 36 underage victims.
The non-prosecution agreement only applies to the US Attorney's office in Florida, which is why the Southern District of New York can file charges against Epstein.
The US attorney's office has been contacted over the last 36 hours by attorneys and people who allege they were victims of Jeffrey Epstein, a prosecutor told the judge at Monday's hearing.
None of them had previously spoken with the office.
The prosecutor also said Epstein has refused to answer questions about his wealth or assets for pretrial services.
Jeffrey Epstein’s attorney Reid Weingarten, speaking in federal court, described the Manhattan US attorney's indictment as a "do-over" of the Florida investigation.
“To us, this indictment is essentially a do-over...This is the very stuff that was investigated by the feds in Florida,” Weingarten said during his client’s presentment.
About the Florida investigation: The well-connected hedge fund manager previously evaded similar charges when he secured a non-prosecution deal with federal prosecutors in Miami. Instead of facing federal charges, Epstein pleaded guilty to two state prostitution charges in 2008 and served just 13 months in prison. He also registered as a sex offender and paid restitution to the victims identified by the FBI.
But that arrangement has come under intense scrutiny as the result of a Miami Herald investigation that examined how it was handled by then-US Attorney Alexander Acosta, who now serves as labor secretary in President Donald Trump's Cabinet.
The Herald investigation said that Acosta gave Epstein the "deal of a lifetime" despite a federal investigation identifying 36 underage victims. The agreement, the Herald said, "essentially shut down an ongoing FBI probe" and further granted immunity to "any potential co-conspirators" in the case.
In February, a federal judge in Florida ruled that the Department of Justice broke the law by failing to confer with Epstein's victims about the agreement.
Referencing the 2007 non-prosecution agreement Epstein entered with the Southern District of Florida earlier Monday, US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said, “that agreement only binds, by its terms, only binds the Southern District of Florida. The Southern District of New York is not bound by that agreement and is not a signatory to that agreement.”
At Jeffrey Epstein's hearing today, the parties and the judge agreed to adjourn the detention hearing until Thursday at 2 p.m. ET.
Epstein will be detained until that time.