Financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was arraigned on two sex trafficking-related charges in Manhattan federal court on Monday. One of the most horrifying details of his indictment is how, after allegedly sexually abusing underage girls, he would entice the accusers to bring him more girls to assault in exchange for a finder's fee.
Epstein's indictment describes how the 66-year-old allegedly ran a sex-trafficking operation and abused dozens of minors at his residences in New York City and Palm Beach, FL, between 2002 and 2005. Prosecutors say he lured underage girls, some as young as 14, to his residences, promising them a cash payment in exchange for giving him a massage. Instead, he would sexually abuse them — groping them, making them touch him while he masturbated, and using sex toys on the minors. Then, he would allegedly ask them to recruit other girls.
More than a decade ago, Epstein faced similar charges. He struck up an infuriatingly lenient plea deal, which led him to serve only 13 months in county jail, and he was able to obtain immunity for "any potential co-conspirators" in his crimes. According to a Miami Herald investigation by journalist Julie K. Brown, which in many ways was the catalyst for the renewed interest in Epstein's alleged crimes, court records and police documents on the 2007 case against him show he created a "sexual pyramid scheme."
One of the alleged survivors, Courtney Wild, told Brown that she was 14 when she first met Epstein. She said he abused her for a long time — and that she also became a recruiter. “By the time I was 16, I had probably brought him 70 to 80 girls who were all 14 and 15 years old. He was involved in my life for years,” she said. Joseph Recarey, the late detective who led the Palm Beach investigation, told Brown: "The common interview with a girl went like this: 'I was brought there by so and so. I didn’t feel comfortable with what happened, but I got paid well, so I was told if I didn’t feel comfortable, I could bring someone else and still get paid.'"
Epstein also allegedly received support from associates and staffers. The indictment points at a New York-based employee, identified as "Employee-1," and two assistants, identified as "Employee-2" and "Employee-3," who allegedly facilitated Epstein's abuse by recruiting underage girls and scheduling their visits to his Manhattan and Palm Beach properties.
Another Epstein associate who has figured in discussions around his alleged crimes is British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell. According to court documents reviewed by the Miami Herald, the legal team for one of Epstein’s accusers claimed the 57-year-old helped Epstein with the trafficking of girls to powerful figures. The court filings allege Maxwell also lured girls under the guise that they would obtain modeling and educational opportunities.
Epstein, who was arrested over the weekend, pleaded not guilty on Monday. He will be back in court Thursday, when the judge will hold a bail hearing.