Financier Jeffrey Epstein remains in jail after his weekend arrest on sex-trafficking charges, and court documents unsealed Monday reveal the seriousness of the case. Epstein is accused of molesting dozens of underage girls at his homes in Florida and New York going back to the early 2000s, reports the AP. Prosecutors say Epstein operated a network of sorts in which the girls, some as young as 14, would be brought to his home on the pretext of giving him a massage for money. If convicted, Epstein faces 45 years in prison. Epstein faced similar accusations several years ago, but he struck a once-secret plea deal in 2008 now criticized as too lenient. He isn't expected to get off easy this time, reports the Daily Beast. Details and coverage:
- The basics: As the New York Times puts it, Epstein has been "repeatedly accused of pedophilia and sexual abuse for more than a decade." The girls, mostly from low-income families, would be told they'd be paid up to $200 to $300 for a massage. "We just wanted money for school clothes, for shoes," one woman told the Miami Herald. Epstein would allegedly turn the massages into sexual encounters, and prosecutors say the girls would be paid to recruit more girls. “The alleged behavior shocks the conscience,” says US Attorney Geoffrey Berman, per the Washington Post. He said the victims were “particularly vulnerable.”
- His plea: Epstein pleaded not guilty in court Monday. The charges are one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors, per CNN. He will be held in jail until at least Thursday, when another hearing will determine whether he's eligible for bail.
- Bold prediction: "If you thought #MeToo was powerful, just wait for the fallout from this," tweets reporter Vicky Ward. "There is more yet to come. I promise you that." Ward was assigned to write a profile of Epstein for Vanity Fair in 2002, and she says that damning allegations about young sisters were edited out of the piece.
- Who is Epstein: The 66-year-old Epstein began working at Bear Stearns in the 1970s before founding his own hedge fund company. His worth is estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, per NBC News. He has hobnobbed with presidents Clinton and Trump, Prince Andrew, and top figures in the business world, including Leslie Wexner of L Brands, which owns Victoria's Secret.
- Labor chief's role: Eleven years ago, Epstein struck a deal in which he avoided federal prosecution on similar charges and a possible life sentence by pleading guilty to lesser state charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution, reports Reuters. He had to register as a sex offender in Florida and serve 13 months in a county jail. Among the federal prosecutors who orchestrated the deal was Alex Acosta, who is now President Trump's labor secretary. He has defended it as the best option available at the time.
- Photos: Federal agents found hundreds or perhaps thousands of lewd photos of young women or girls during a search of Epstein's Manhattan mansion, reports the AP.
- Old quote: A quote from President Trump about Epstein in 2002 is now in wide circulation. "I've known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy," Trump told New York magazine. "He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side."
- Newspaper investigation: The Miami Herald and reporter Julie K. Brown took a critical look at the 2008 plea deal last year in an investigation labeled "Perversion of Justice." Start here.
- Reporter: Journalist Brown is getting a lot of kudos in the wake of Epstein's arrest. "I know there is a lot of praise on here for the Herald and myself," she tweeted. "But I have to say the ... REAL HEROES HERE were the courageous victims that faced their fears and told their stories."
- Bombshells to come? A new Herald story floats the possibility that some of Epstein's high-profile friends might face trouble, too. Notably, that includes British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, 57, who the newspaper says has been "accused of working as Epstein’s madam," and Jean-Luc Brunel, who court records suggest partnered with Epstein in a modeling agency.
- Familiar name: One of the prosecutors working the new Epstein case is Maurene Comey, daughter of James Comey, reports CNN.
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