Billionaire investor Jeffrey Epstein was arrested on Saturday and charged with allegedly sex trafficking minors in New York and Florida between 2002 and 2005, reports The Daily Beast. This is not the first time Epstein has been accused of trafficking. In 2007, Epstein, who is friends with U.S. Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, was accused of running an international sex trafficking operation and molesting nearly three dozen underage girls in the years 1999 to 2006, per the Miami Herald.
For those charges, which could have landed him a life sentence, Epstein spent just 13 months in the private wing of the Palm Beach County jail rather than a state or federal prison. This time, Epstein will remain in the Metropolitan Correctional Centre in Manhattan until his bail hearing on Monday.
The 66-year-old former hedge fund manager, who was arrested at New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport on his way back from Paris, is being charged with one count of sex trafficking and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, according to the New York Times. He’s reportedly accused of sexually exploiting dozens of underage girls by paying them for “massages” and then molesting or sexually abusing them in his Upper East Side or Palm Beach homes. According to sealed court documents obtained by The Daily Beast, Epstein’s employees and associates allegedly recruited the girls, some as young as 14, who would sometimes become recruiters themselves down the line.
“It’s been a long time coming — it’s been too long coming,” attorney David Boies told The Daily Beast after Epstein’s arrest. Boies represents two of Epstein’s accusers, Sarah Ransome and Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who claims she first met Epstein when she was 15 and working at Mar-a-Lago. “It is an important step towards getting justice for the many victims of Mr. Epstein’s sex trafficking enterprise,” Boies said.
Boies added that he hopes “prosecutors will not stop with Mr. Epstein because there were many other people who participated with him and made the sex trafficking possible.”
Two years after the #MeToo movement started with a bombshell report on Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct, Epstein’s arrest shows how powerful men are still being protected by the system. Twelve years ago, the state attorney’s office in Palm Beach chose not to pursue charges against Epstein, “claiming the girls weren’t credible,” according to The Daily Beast, after Epstein’s lawyers shared information about victims’ pasts, including drug use.
Last year, the Miami Herald detailed the extensive allegations against Epstein, who refers to himself as a philanthropist but, by others, is often described as “Gatsby-esque,” in a report that looked at the sweetheart deal former U.S. attorney and Trump’s current labour secretary, Alexander Acosta, helped strike for Epstein, which required him to register as a sex offender. Back in February, it was ruled that federal prosecutors in Florida, including Acosta, broke the law when they signed the secret plea agreement that kept Epstein out of federal prison and his victims in the dark. However, last month, the Justice Department ruled that they would not throw out his 2008 agreement.
"If today’s report is true, it only proves that Epstein should have been charged by federal prosecutors 12 years ago in Florida,” attorney Paul Cassell, who represents multiple victims of Epstein in their lawsuit against the federal government, said in a statement via the Washington Post. “With his money, Epstein was able to buy more than a decade of delay in facing justice — but fortunately he wasn’t able to postpone justice forever.”