Jeffrey Epstein charged, sex trafficking
More than a decade after receiving one of the most lenient sentences for a serial sex offender in US history, multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein has been arrested outside of New York, sources have confirmed to The Miami Herald.
Epstein was arrested at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey on Saturday, according to one of the sources.
Epstein, 66, is expected to be arraigned in federal court in New York on Monday on charges that he molested dozens of underage girls in New York and in Florida, the sources said.
His arrest, first reported by The Daily Beast, comes nearly two weeks after the Justice Department announced that it would not throw out his 2008 non-prosecution agreement, even though a federal judge ruled it was illegal.
Sources said Epstein was arrested by the FBI pursuant to a sealed indictment that will be unsealed on Monday. He is in custody in New York and a bail hearing is set for Monday.
Last November, the Herald published a series of stories, titled Perversion of Justice, that described the ways in which Florida's US attorney, Alexander Acosta, worked in conjunction with Epstein's lawyers to engineer the non-prosecution agreement - and keep it secret from Epstein's victims. Acosta is now President Donald Trump's secretary of labour.
Sources told the Herald that the indictment includes new victims and witnesses who spoke to authorities in New York over the past several months.
Epstein, who has homes in Manhattan, Palm Beach, New Mexico, Paris and in the US Virgin Islands, sexually abused nearly three dozen girls, mostly 13-16 years old, at his Palm Beach mansion from 1999 to 2006, according to investigators.
He used the girls to help recruit other young girls as part of an operation that ran similar to a pyramid scheme. He also had recruiters who helped with his appointments, scheduling as many as three or four girls a day, the FBI probe found.
Acosta met one-on-one with Epstein's lawyer, Jay Lefkowitz, in October 2007, at a West Palm Beach Marriott. Records reviewed by the Herald showed that it was at that meeting that Acosta agreed to a non-prosecution agreement that gave Epstein and others involved in his operation federal immunity.
As part of the deal, Epstein was allowed to plead guilty to two state prostitution charges involving a 17-year-old girl, and he served 13 months in the Palm Beach County jail. The deal was sealed, however, so that no one - not even his victims - knew the details about the agreement until nearly a year later. By that time, Epstein had already been released from jail and had returned to his jet-setting life.
On Wednesday, a federal appeals court in New York ordered the unsealing of up to 2,000 pages of documents that are expected to show evidence relating to whether Epstein and his partner, Ghislaine Maxwell, were recruiting underage girls and young women as part of an international sex trafficking operation. Maxwell, 57, has never been charged.
The ruling came after the Herald, joined by a consortium of media companies, including The New York Times, asked that the records be opened. Two other parties, social media blogger Michael Cernovich and lawyer Alan Dershowitz, also sought to have some of the documents made public. Dershowitz, who represented Epstein during the 2006-2007 federal criminal probe, has also been accused of having sex with one of Epstein's underage girls. Dershowitz has denied the allegation and has said that the records will clear him of any wrongdoing.
As part of its investigation, the Herald was able to identify nearly 80 girls who were molested by Epstein. Four of the victims, now in their late 20s and early 30s, spoke on camera about how they were traumatised first by Epstein, then by his lawyers and private investigators, and finally by the prosecutors themselves, who disposed of the case without telling them.
One of the victims, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, said that she was forced by Epstein and Maxwell to have sex with a number of wealthy and powerful politicians, academics and government leaders, including Dershowitz and Prince Andrew. She has never named the other men, largely because she has been afraid, her lawyers said.