On NBC’s TODAY, victim Jennifer Araoz shares with Savannah Guthrie her chilling account of alleged sexual assault by billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, which she says happened when she was in high school. Jennifer Araoz is not part of the Southern District of New York’s case against Epstein, who pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges.
Jeffrey Epstein Charged In Manhattan Federal Court With Sex Trafficking Of Minors
Alleged Conduct Occurred in both New York and Florida over Multiple Years, Involving Dozens of Victims
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and James P. O’Neill, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced that Jeffrey Epstein was arrested Saturday and charged with sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors. The indictment unsealed today alleges that, between 2002 through 2005, Epstein sexually exploited and abused dozens of underage girls by enticing them to engage in sex acts with him in exchange for money. Epstein allegedly worked with several employees and associates to ensure that he had a steady supply of minor victims to abuse, and paid several of those victims themselves to recruit other underage girls to engage in similar sex acts for money. He committed these offenses in locations including New York, New York, and Palm Beach, Florida. Epstein is expected to be presented in Manhattan federal court this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry B. Pitman. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “As alleged, Jeffrey Epstein abused underage girls for years, operating a scheme in which girls he victimized would recruit others for Epstein to exploit and abuse. Epstein exploited girls who were vulnerable to abuse, enticed them with cash payments, and escalated his conduct to include sex acts, often occurring at his residence on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. While the charged conduct is from a number of years ago, the victims – then children and now young women – are no less entitled to their day in court. My Office is proud to stand up for these victims by bringing this indictment.”
FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “We are asking anyone who may have been victimized by Jeffrey Epstein, or anyone who may have information about his alleged criminal behavior, to please call us. The number is 1-800-CALL-FBI. We want to hear from you, regardless of the age you are now, or whatever age you were then, no matter where the incident took place. The bravery it takes to call us might empower others to speak out about the crimes committed against them. It is important to remember there was never, nor will there ever be an excuse for this type of behavior. In the eyes of the FBI, the victims will always come first.”
NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said: “Today’s charges serve as a warning to individuals who continue to prey upon some of our society’s most vulnerable population: we are coming for you. I thank and commend the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District and the FBI for their tireless efforts to ensure child predators are taken off our streets. The NYPD will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to eradicate the trafficking of children in our city and nation and work to bring justice to victims of these heinous crimes.”
If you believe you are a victim of the sexual abuse perpetrated by Jeffrey Epstein, please contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL FBI, and reference this case.
According to the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:
From at least 2002 through at least 2005, Jeffrey Epstein enticed and recruited, and caused to be enticed and recruited, dozens of minor girls to visit his mansion in New York, New York (the “New York Residence”), and his estate in Palm Beach, Florida (the “Palm Beach Residence”), to engage in sex acts with him, after which he would give the victims hundreds of dollars in cash. In order to maintain and increase his supply of victims, Epstein also paid certain victims to recruit additional underage girls whom he could similarly abuse. In this way, Epstein created a vast network of underage victims for him to sexually exploit, often on a daily basis, in locations including New York and Palm Beach.
Epstein’s victims were as young as 14 at the time he abused them, and were, for various reasons, often particularly vulnerable to exploitation. Moreover, Epstein knew that many of his victims were under 18, including because, in some instances, victims expressly told him they were underage.
In creating and maintaining this network of minor victims in multiple states to abuse and exploit sexually, Epstein worked with others, including employees and associates who facilitated his conduct by, among other things, contacting victims and scheduling their sexual encounters with Epstein at the New York Residence and at the Palm Beach Residence.
In both New York and Florida, Epstein perpetuated this abuse in similar ways. Victims were initially recruited to provide “massages” to Epstein, which became increasingly sexual in nature and would typically include one or more sex acts. Epstein paid his victims hundreds of dollars in cash for each encounter.
In particular, during encounters at the New York Residence, victims would be taken to a room where they would perform a massage on Epstein, during which Epstein would frequently escalate the nature and scope of physical contact with his victims to include, among other things, sex acts such as groping and direct and indirect contact with the victims’ genitals. In connection with the encounters, Epstein, or one of his employees or associates, typically paid each victim hundreds of dollars in cash. Once minor victims were recruited, Epstein or his employees or associates would contact victims to schedule appointments for “massages.” As a result, many victims were abused by Epstein on multiple subsequent occasions.
To further enable him to abuse underage girls, Epstein asked and enticed certain of his victims to recruit additional minor girls to perform “massages” and similarly engage in sex acts with Epstein. When a victim would recruit another underage girl for Epstein, he paid both the victim-recruiter and the new victim hundreds of dollars in cash. Through these victim-recruiters, Epstein maintained a steady supply of new victims to exploit, and gained access to dozens of additional underage girls to abuse.
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Jeffrey Epstein, 66, is charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors, which carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
The statutory maximum and mandatory penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the judge.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI and the NYPD. He also thanked the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for their assistance.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alex Rossmiller, Alison Moe, and Maurene Comey are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from the Office’s Human Trafficking Co-Coordinator, Abigail Kurland.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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 As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment, and the description of the Indictment set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described therein should be treated as an allegation.
ABC’s “Nightline” looks at the fallout from the indictment of Epstein, who allegedly abused “dozens” of underage girls and recruited a “vast network” of victims.
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Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta holds a press conference after a handful of Democrats call for his resignation over his decision to offer billionaire Jeffrey Epstein a “sweetheart” plea deal in 2008 when Acosta was U.S. attorney in Miami.