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.