Tuesday, July 9, 2019

US billionaire Epstein accused of sex trafficking

Jeffrey Epstein, a U.S. hedge fund billionaire with links to top politicians and celebrities, was charged Monday with running a sex trafficking ring that allegedly exploited dozens of underage girls.

In an indictment, Geoffrey Berman, a federal prosecutor in New York, accused Epstein of allegedly paying the girls hundreds of dollars for nude or partially nude massages that "increasingly were sexual in nature" at his mansion on New York's Upper East Side and at his estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

The prosecutor said Epstein often paid some of the victims, some as young as 14, to recruit other underage girls that he then also abused from 2002 to 2005.


"The alleged behavior shocks the conscience," Berman said of Epstein, who was arrested over the weekend when he flew back to the U.S. from Paris on his private jet. The prosecutor said that after Epstein's arrest, investigators searched his New York home and found photos "of what appeared to be underage girls."

Despite the fact that the allegations against Epstein stem from incidents that occurred more than a decade ago, Berman said, "We want to make sure [the accusers] have their day in court by bringing these charges."

The 66-year-old Epstein faces two charges, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and sex trafficking. If convicted, Epstein faces up to 45 years in prison, which Berman said, because of Epstein's age, amounts to a life sentence. In a court appearance, Epstein pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Epstein is a well-connected financier whose friends have included two U.S. presidents, Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, and Britain's Prince Andrew.



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