According to a report from The New York Times, federal prosecutors will be unsealing new sex trafficking charges against billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein. The 66-year-old is accused of sexually abusing underage girls at his Upper East Side mansion and running a sex-trafficking operation, where dozens of girls as young as 14 were lured to the home.
Epstein was arrested on Saturday, July 6 at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey after arriving on a private jet from France. If convicted on these charges, he could face up to 45 years in prison.
Epstein has been named in several civil lawsuits and police reports for allegedly sexually abusing underage girls.
He is accused of regularly luring girls to his home in Manhattan under the pretext that they would be giving him massages. These massages would then allegedly turn into sexual assaults. According to the authorities, he also transported the girls between his NYC home and his mansion in Palm Beach, Florida. This conduct is believed to have occurred between 2002 and 2005 and investigators say they have found evidence of abuse as recently as 2001 with victims as young as 13.
These charges come over a decade after Epstein agreed to a plea deal for similar charges in Florida. In that case, several girls told police that they were brought to his South Florida home and sexually assaulted there. Federal prosecutors offered Epstein a secret plea deal for those charges in 2008.
Federal prosecutors had a 53-page federal indictment prepared against Epstein. However, the prosecutors made a plea deal without telling the victims until a judge had already approved the deal. Epstein, who originally could have faced life in prison, pleaded guilty to two prostitution charges in state court and served approximately one year in a Palm Beach jail. He was allowed to leave the jail six days per week for 12 hours per day for work-release.
This deal also protected any co-conspirators from prosecution for helping to arrange the sexual assaults or staying in contact with victims.
Former Southern District of Florida United States attorney Alexander Acosta arranged that deal – who is now President Trump’s labor secretary. Acosta reportedly met privately with one of Epstein’s attorneys and allowed his attorneys to set many of the terms of the plea deal.
In February of this year, a federal judge ruled that Florida prosecutors were in violation of the law by not telling the victims about the 2008 Florida plea deal.
Attorney contributor Laurence Banville represents victims of sexual crimes in civil lawsuits. Here is Laurence with some general information regarding the legal options available to sex trafficking victims:
Victims of sex trafficking have legal rights in both criminal and civil courts. The criminal justice system handles the investigation and prosecution of sex traffickers and predators, but the legal options for victims don’t always end here. In some cases, sex trafficking victims may have grounds for a lawsuit.
If you or a loved one is a survivor of sex trafficking or another sexual crime, you can learn more about your legal rights by speaking with an experienced sexual assault survivors attorney.