Jeffrey Epstein, the Florida-based billionaire who managed to avoid a harsh sentence for sex crimes with minors after cutting the "deal of a lifetime" with President Donald Trump's future labor secretary, is now being indicted on new charges.
Epstein has been arrested for allegedly sex trafficking dozens of minors between 2002 and 2005 while residing in New York and Florida, according to a story broken by The Daily Beast and confirmed by CNN. The new indictment reportedly accuses Epstein of paying underage girls in cash for "massages" in order to molest or otherwise sexually abuse them at his residences in either the Upper East Side of Manhattan or in a wealthy neighborhood of Palm Beach, Florida. The indictment will also reportedly claim that some of Epstein's employees and associates helped him recruit these girls for his abuse — and that many of the sex abuse victims ultimately assisted him in recruiting his future victims.
The billionaire is being charged with a single count of sex trafficking minors and an additional count of engaging in the sex trafficking of minors, which could ultimately lead to a jail sentence of up to 45 years.
The case is being handled by a team of prosecutors from the Southern District of New York in conjunction with the public corruption unit. One of the prosecutors, Maurene Comey, is the daughter of former FBI Director James Comey, according to an inside source involved in the case.
One particularly controversial detail of the case is the role played by Alexander Acosta — now Trump's labor secretary and a former lawyer for the federal government — who is accused of cutting a sweetheart deal for Epstein to help him evade justice for his alleged crimes (The Miami Herald reported extensively on this story in November). Although Epstein was found guilty of abusing more than 80 women, Acosta is reported to have helped Epstein cut a secret non-prosecution agreement that forced to a close a federal investigation into a trans-Atlantic sex trafficking operation of underage girls.
If Epstein had been found guilty of helping run such an operation, he would have likely spent the rest of his life in prison. Instead Acosta, who at that time was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, negotiated a plea deal with Epstein that his critics claim covered up both the scope of his crimes and the number of people involved. The accused pedophile wound up only pleading guilty to state charges involving one victim in 2008 and served a mere 13 months in county jail... and even then was permitted to leave the jail grounds for six days out of the week for up to 12 hours due to a work release provision.
As a result of the Herald's reporting, members of Congress have asked that the Justice Department investigate possible misconduct from the federal officers entrusted with the Epstein case.
"The victims of Epstein's child sex trafficking ring deserve this investigation — and so do the American people and the members of law enforcement who work to put these kinds of monsters behind bars," Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said in February.
He added, "Jeffrey Epstein is a child rapist and there's not a single mom or dad in America who shouldn't be horrified by the fact that he received a pathetically soft sentence."