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Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein charged with child sex trafficking and conspiracy

Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein charged with child sex trafficking and conspiracy
Federal prosecutors have charged financier Jeffrey Epstein with crimes related to sex trafficking of underage girls, more than a decade after he dodged similar charges with a plea deal.

Epstein was arrested in New Jersey on Saturday night and pleaded not guilty to one count of sex trafficking and one count of sex trafficking conspiracy on Monday. He will remain in jail until his bail hearing on July 15.

A search of Epstein’s New York property turned up “nude photographs of what appeared to be underage girls,” prosecutor Geoffrey Berman told a press conference on Monday.

According to the indictment, Epstein is accused of having “worked and conspired with others, including employees and associates” to groom and sexually exploit minors. Epstein supposedly lured “dozens” of minors as young as 14 to his properties in Florida and New York, where he coerced them to perform “massages” on him, before sexually abusing them. The disgraced billionaire paid the girls hundreds of dollars in cash for the encounters.

Federal prosecutors believe that Epstein used his massive fortune to “create a vast network of underage victims for him to sexually exploit.” He allegedly paid certain victims to work as “recruiters,” enticing more children to be abused.

Epstein’s behavior, Berman said, “shocks the conscience.”

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In 2008, the former hedge fund manager faced charges for sexually abusing dozens of underage girls, but ultimately pled guilty to lesser charges of soliciting a prostitute and served only 13 months in a Florida prison. He was also required to register as a sex offender.

The latest indictment was unsealed Monday morning, hours before Epstein appeared in court in Manhattan. Epstein’s case has garnered national attention due to his close friendship with politicians and celebrities. He has hobnobbed with both Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, the latter reportedly having taken multiple flights on Epstein’s infamous private jet, the “Lolita Express.”

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Berman refused to comment on any links between Epstein and individuals “associated or affiliated” with him, citing Justice Department guidelines. 

If convicted, the 66-year-old sex offender could serve up to 45 years behind bars. Prosecutors requested that he be detained pending trial, claiming he posed an "extraordinary risk of flight" due to his wealth, private jet ownership, and international connections.

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