Jeffrey Epstein faces sex trafficking and conspiracy charges

NEW YORK (AP) — Eleven years after letting Jeffrey Epstein off lightly with a once-secret plea deal, the United States (US) government is taking another run at putting the wealthy sex offender behind bars with new sex-trafficking charges alleging he abused dozens of underage girls as young as 14.

Epstein, arrested over the weekend, was expected to make his first court appearance on the new charges Monday in New York City. Prosecutors were likely to argue he is a flight risk and should remain in jail instead of being released on bail pending trial.

The case deals with allegations that Epstein, a 66-year-old hedge fund manager who once hobnobbed with some of the world’s most powerful people, paid the underage girls hundreds of dollars in cash for massages and molested them at his homes in Florida and New York, according to an indictment unsealed yesterday.

Epstein “intentionally sought out minors and knew that many of his victims were in fact under the age of 18,” prosecutors said.

He also paid some of his victims to “recruit additional girls to be similarly abused by Epstein,” the indictment says. “In this way, Epstein created a vast network of underage victims for him to sexually exploit in locations including New York and Palm Beach.”

Epstein’s lawyer did not respond to repeated messages seeking comment.

File photo shows Jeffrey Epstein in custody in West Palm Beach, Florida. – AP