Jeffrey Epstein, the wealthy financier and registered sex offender, was arrested Saturday on new charges related to accusations that he was involved in sex trafficking dozens of minors between 2002 and 2005. The former hedge-fund manager is now in federal custody and is expected to appear in court on Monday. The sealed indictment will reportedly claim that Epstein “sexually exploited dozens of underage girls in a now-familiar scheme: paying them cash for ‘massages’ and then molesting or sexually abusing them,” according to the Daily Beast, which was first to report the news that has since been confirmed by several outlets. The abuse allegedly took place in both his Manhattan apartment as well as his home in Palm Beach and he could face as many as 45 years behind bars.
Epstein was taken into custody on Saturday afternoon at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey when his private jet landed from Paris. While that was going on, agents were at his New York home executing a search warrant.
The arrest, which the New York Times characterizes as “an extraordinary turn of events in a long and sordid criminal case,” comes more than a decade after Epstein avoided federal criminal charges with a once-secret plea deal that has been widely criticized. Under the terms of that deal that is currently being challenged in court, Epstein was able to plead guilty to a lesser charge and was sentenced to 13 months in jail. He had to register as a sex offender but served that jail time in a private wing of a county jail and came up with an arrangement that allowed him to work out of his office six days a week. He also registered as a sex offender.
In an era when the behavior of powerful men has been increasingly under scrutiny, Epstein wasn’t really talked about until the Miami Herald published a three-part series detailing how he was able to skirt federal prosecution. In addition to his extraordinary wealth, Epstein was also friendly with Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton, and Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, among other powerful figures. The plea deal that protected Epstein from federal charges was overseen by Alexander Acosta, who is now Labor Secretary.
Earlier this year, a judge in Florida ruled that Epstein’s victims should have been consulted on the deal. But last month the Justice Department said it would not nix Epstein’s non-prosecution agreement. What happens Monday in court will be key because if he is granted bail, some say he may be able to escape prosecution once again. “That bail hearing will be critical because if they grant him bail, he has enough money that he will disappear and they will never get him,” a source in New York told the Miami Herald.