5 things you need to know about the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking case

jeffrey epstein ny state sex offender photo
jeffrey epstein ny state sex offender photo

New York state sex offender registry

Jeffrey Epstein was charged on Monday with sex trafficking and conspiracy — more than a decade after sexual abuse allegations first surfaced against the wealthy financier in 2005.

Since news broke of his arrest, the world has reflected on prior sexual abuse allegations against Epstein, as well as his ties to wealthy social circles that include President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton, and Britain's Prince Andrew.

On Friday, Trump's Labor Secretary Alex Acosta stepped down from his role amid backlash over the widely criticized plea agreement he orchestrated for Epstein in 2008, when the financier was facing allegations of sexually abusing more than 30 underage girls.

Since July 6, at least a dozen more women have been added to a long list of more than 80 who have now accused Epstein of sexual abuse and sex trafficking them when they were girls.

Here are the key points of Epstein's current sex trafficking case that are worth knowing.

Jeffrey Epstein was arrested on sex trafficking charges and has pleaded not guilty

Demonstrators hold photos aloft protesting Jeffrey Epstein in New York.JPG
Demonstrators hold photos aloft protesting Jeffrey Epstein in New York.JPG

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Epstein, 66, was arrested at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey on Saturday.

He was charged on Monday with sex trafficking and conspiracy. In the indictment, prosecutors alleged that Epstein molested girls as young as 14 in a sex trafficking operation that ran from at least 2002 to 2005.

Unsealed court documents revealed that a grand jury charged Epstein with the sexual exploitation and abuse of "dozens of minor girls." Prosecutors said the abuse took place in homes Epstein owned in New York City and Palm Beach, Florida.

Read more: A timeline of sexual abuse cases brought against Jeffrey Epstein

Prosecutors alleged in an indictment that Epstein paid dozens of underage girls for massages and molested them in his homes. He also is accused of paying underage girls to recruit others, creating a "vast network" meant to "maintain and increase his supply of victims," according to charging documents.

Prosecutors also allege that Epstein directed his employees to entice, recruit, and pay underage victims.

Epstein has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he could face up to 45 years in prison.

Nearly 100 women have come forward with allegations against Epstein

Michelle Licata and Courtney Wild, who say they are victims, leave following the arraignment of U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein after the Southern District of New York announced charges of sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors, in New York, U.S., July 8, 2019.
Michelle Licata and Courtney Wild, who say they are victims, leave following the arraignment of U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein after the Southern District of New York announced charges of sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors, in New York, U.S., July 8, 2019.

REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Allegations first surfaced against Epstein in 2005, when a 14-year-old girl accused the financier of molesting her in a Palm Beach home.

She said she and a female acquaintance from Royal Palm Beach High School went to the home together, and once there she gave Epstein a massage in exchange for money.

The accusation launched a police investigation into Epstein, in which detectives said alleged victims told them that they were paid anywhere between $200 and $1,000 for massages, according to NBC News.

Police said the massages would turn sexual and girls were molested, according to NBC.

Read more: The Epstein arrest sheds more grim light on sex trafficking — here are 4 things to know about how the trade actually works in the US

While working on an exposé published by the Miami Herald last year, journalist Julie K. Brown identified about 80 women who said they were sexually abused by the financier between 2001 and 2005, according to The New York Times.

Eight of the women agreed to be interviewed for the story, which Brown spent 18 months working on with Emily Michot, a visual journalist at The Herald.

Several women have spoken out about allegations against Epstein, including Virginia Roberts Giuffre, Courtney Wild, and Jennifer Araoz.

The Miami Herald reported on Thursday that at least 12 women have reached out to lawyers in New York and Palm Beach, Florida, with new allegations against Epstein since his arrest.

Epstein has a web of high-powered friends, including Trump and Prince Andrew

jeffrey epstein donald trump 1997 mar-a-lago palm beach
jeffrey epstein donald trump 1997 mar-a-lago palm beach

Davidoff Studios/Getty Images

Through his career as a high-level financier, Epstein befriended people in high places and hosted scores of famous people on his private plane, dubbed the "Lolita Express."

Epstein's "black book," first reported on by Gawker in 2015, included President Donald Trump, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Ted Kennedy, Alec Baldwin, and Courtney Love.

Trump once called Epstein a "terrific guy," and, as neighbors in Florida, they attended the same parties and were often photographed together. Trump has distanced himself from Epstein since the financier's arrest, saying: "I had a falling out with him. I haven't spoken to him in 15 years. I was not a fan of his, that I can tell you."

Read more: Everything we know about Trump's connection to financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was charged with sex trafficking

jeffrey epstein ghislaine
jeffrey epstein ghislaine

Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Epstein was also close with Britain's Prince Andrew, who he met in the 1990s by Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's then-girlfriend, according to a 2015 Guardian report.

Buckingham Palace has never denied a friendship between Epstein and Andrew, but has repeatedly denied he had sexual relations with Roberts Giuffre or any other underage girls. Andrew also issued a denial.

Former President Bill Clinton was a frequent flyer on Epstein's plane.

Clinton released a statement on Monday saying he "knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those with which he has been recently charged in New York."

Epstein took a secret plea agreement in 2008 arranged by current labor secretary Alex Acosta

alexander acosta
alexander acosta

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

In 2008, while facing sexual abuse allegations, Epstein secretly cut a deal with prosecutors in an agreement approved by then-Miami US Attorney Alexander Acosta, who went on to become Trump's labor secretary.

Under the non-prosecution agreement, Epstein agreed to plead guilty to state charges in Florida of soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution.

The plea allowed him to avoid a possible life sentence in prison, and he instead served 13 months in a work-release program, made payments to victims, and registered as a sex offender.

Read more: Jeffrey Epstein once compared being a sex offender to being a bagel thief

Epstein's victims were not informed of the deal ahead of time, and in February, a judge ruled that the deal violated the Crime Victims' Rights Act.

Acosta announced his resignation on Friday, amid backlash over the deal he made nearly a decade ago.

"I thought the right thing was to step aside," Acosta told reporters, according to Bloomberg.

In his resignation letter to the president, Acosta wrote, "You have made America great again."

Epstein's decade-old plea deal could affect his current case

Jeffrey Epstein
Jeffrey Epstein

Uma Sanghvi/Palm Beach Post via REUTERS

Epstein's lawyers argue that the phrasing of his 2008 non-prosecution agreement in Florida could affect his current sex trafficking case.

According to the Associated Press, the agreement states: "Epstein seeks to resolve globally his state and federal criminal liability…."

Normally a non-prosecution agreement applies to the federal district where a case is being brought, but Epstein's lawyers argue that because of the use "reserve globally," the agreement covered all US federal judicial districts, meaning Epstein wouldn't face charges elsewhere.

Read more: Trump's Labor Secretary Alex Acosta is stepping down amid backlash over Jeffrey Epstein plea deal

Prosecutors in New York, however, say a second part of the agreement means the deal is limited to just Florida.

The second part reads, according to AP: "… on authority of R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, prosecution in this District for these offenses shall be deferred in favor of prosecution by the State of Florida."

This week, Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said he believes that the non-prosecution agreement is binding only on federal prosecutors in Florida.

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