On July 6, New York billionaire Jeffrey Epstein was arrested in New Jersey on charges of “sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors.” U.S. District Judge Richard Berman has delayed his bail decision and will announce Thursday whether or not Epstein can post bail. Because of Epstein’s previous convictions as well as his connections to those in high places, this case is already being closely followed. Here are four things you need to know.
1.This is not the first time Epstein has been arrested for criminal sex.
Between 1999 and 2008, Florida and New York suspected Epstein of trafficking dozens of minors. Girls as young as 14 were recruited initially as masseuses or by the promise of modeling jobs. The encounters soon turned sexual, and Epstein paid the girls $200-$300 each time they visited his Palm Beach mansion.
Some of these girls and young women claim that British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell recruited them. Others claim that girls whom Epstein was already victimizing recruited them.
Because of this pyramid structure, police estimate the number of victims to be at least a few hundred. Epstein, however, continued to traffic minors despite Florida bringing charges against him in 2008 because the state granted him a plea deal.
2. Epstein’s July 6 arrest forced Alexander Acosta to resign.
Alexander Acosta, the most recent U.S. labor secretary, resigned on July 12. Before becoming the U.S. Labor Secretary, he served as the U.S. attorney in Miami, where he was personally involved in granting Epstein’s 2008 plea deal.
Represented by world famous attorneys Kenneth Starr (remembered from Clinton’s impeachment trial) and Alan Dershowitz (Harvard constitutional law professor), Epstein pled guilty to state felony prostitution. This forced him to register as a Level 3 sex offender in New York and serve out an 18-month sentence in Florida.
However, he only served 13 months of that 18-month sentence. Moreover, he was granted work release and permitted to leave the Palm Beach County Jail (yes, county, not state prison) for 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. The plea deal also granted immunity to potential co-conspirators as well as shut down a federal investigation.
3. This month’s arrest is related to crimes from over a decade ago.
The indictment and arrest served on July 6 traces back to the original trafficking case brought against Epstein for crimes committed between 2002 and 2005 in Florida. It references many facets of the case that Florida brought against Epstein in 2008, but because of double jeopardy, the police apparently have either new victims or new crimes.
Alone, the one count of trafficking minors and the one count of conspiring to traffic minors in the indictment could put Epstein in prison for up to 45 years. Additionally, when police searched his New York mansion following his arrest, they found several CDs containing hundreds of nude photos – some of minors. Possessing child pornography – if one is not already a sex offender – can carry up to a 15-year jail sentence.
4. The implications are still unknown.
Epstein’s money famously connects him to the elitest of the elites: former President Bill Clinton and former First Lady Hillary Clinton, current President Donald Trump, and Prince Andrew, Duke of York. Thus, this case has the potential to drag more than one name through the mud.
Epstein’s current defense attorneys are requesting that the judge post bail as high as $100 million. However, with large, accessible sums of cash, a residence in the Virgin Islands, and two private jets, prosecutors argue that Epstein poses a significant flight risk and should be denied bail. When police found child pornography in his New York mansion, they also found an old passport which showed a photo of him, but a different name and a residence in Saudi Arabia as well as large quantities of diamonds. Furthermore, after being forced to register as a sex offender, Epstein missed 34 check-ins with local law officials.
[Image credit: U.S. State of Florida via Wikimedia, public domain; William Warby via Flickr, CC BY 2.0]