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Jeffrey Epstein: Financier charged with sex trafficking minors

Jeffrey Epstein: Financier charged with sex trafficking minors”

In a development that shows that the #MeToo movement is chipping away at the wall of protection that powerful men have constructed around themselves, financier Jeffrey Epstein, who has ties to influential people such as Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Britain's Prince Andrew, is expected to appear in Federal court Monday on new charges of sex trafficking of underage girls.

The indictment from U.S. District Court in the Southern District of NY accuse the 66-year-old of sexually exploiting and abusing dozens of minor girls at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida, among other locations, between 2002 and 2005. He also paid some of his victims to recruit additional girls, creating "a vast network of underage victims for him to sexually exploit," prosecutors said.

The victims were as young as 14 years old, according to court documents, and in at least some of the instances, Epstein allegedly knew they were underage.

The new charges come 11 years after Epstein, "bolstered by unlimited funds and represented by a powerhouse legal team, was able to manipulate the criminal justice system", and avoid what could have been a lengthy prison sentence when he pleaded guilty to state charges of soliciting and procuring a person under 18 for prostitution, the Miami Herald reported.

In 2008, when Epstein first became the subject of a federal investigation and entered a plea deal that earned him freedom at the time, Acosta held the position of an attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

The deal also required that he reach financial settlements with dozens of his victims and register as a sex offender.

On Saturday night, Epstein was arrested at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, where he had returned on his private plane from Paris.

In an indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of NY, he was charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors.

Following the ruling, the White House said it was also "looking into" Labour Secretary Alexander Acosta's role in the plea deal, which he approved in his previous role as a United States attorney.

Epstein dodged significant jail time in Florida more than a decade ago when allegations against him of child sex trafficking first surfaced.

Some of Epstein's accusers welcomed the indictment.

But the deal has been challenged in court by several of Epstein's accusers, who say they were denied a chance to have their views about it heard, in violation of the federal Crime Victims' Rights Act.

In 2002, then-businessman Trump praised Epstein in a NY magazine interview.

On Monday, Berman, the federal prosecutor in NY, said he was not a signatory to the Florida agreement and that there was no legal impediment to bringing the new charges.

This deal, which has come under renewed controversy for its leniency, was negotiated by former US-Attorney Alexander Acosta.

"The last couple of years have helped build this environment where the public isn't willing to see these cases swept under the rug anymore", said Scott Berkowitz, president of RAINN, the anti-sexual violence organization. Attorney General William Barr declined to comment on Epstein's case, saying he has recused himself from the matter. A federal judge ruled earlier this year that Epstein's victims should have been consulted under the law about the deal, and he is now weighing whether to invalidate the agreement.

Former federal prosecutor David Weinstein agreed that the non-prosecution deal applies only to federal prosecutors in the Florida, not those in NY.

Prosecutors said they would oppose his release on bail.

"The past can not be undone; the government committed itself. and the parties have not disputed that Epstein complied with its provisions", prosecutors wrote.

"He has enormous wealth".



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