US financier, Jeffrey Epstein, above (YouTube screenshot), has been charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy involving underage girls, New York prosecutors said citing the multimillionaire’s indictment on Monday, local reports say.
Epstein may be jailed for 45 years if convicted on both charges. He pleaded not guilty during the hearing in the Manhattan court.
He was arrested on Saturday evening at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey soon after his arrival from Paris.
He is being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan where he may remain until his bail hearing expected on July 15.
Prosecutors told the court that he is a flight risk, a threat to community and his disappearance can derail the case which has shocked the conscience of the nation.
The indictment says the 66-year-old unmarried financier sexually abused dozens of girls in his homes in New York and Florida between 2002 and 2005.
He allegedly paid each of the girls hundreds of dollars to give him nude “massages” which, in turn, gave him opportunity to touch and grope them and even masturbate in their presence.
Epstein gave them more cash to introduce other girls to him to create a vast network of victims, the indictment said.
Federal agents and NYPD found a special massage room, a table and sex toys during their raid on Epstein’s Manhattan mansion.
They also found hundreds of nude photos of women and girls in his safe, according to court filing. Addressing a media conference on Monday, US attorney Geoffrey Berman said although the alleged crimes took place years ago, Epstein’s underage victims, young women now, deserve justice.
He abused his victims knowing well that many of them were minors and vulnerable, Berman said.
This is not the first case of against Epstein. In 2008, he pleaded guilty to providing clients with underage prostitutes and, in exchange for the guilty plea, walked free after spending only 13 months in a Florida jail.
Berman said New York is not bound by that questionable non-prosecution plea deal Epstein struck in Florida.
Prosecutors told the court that more alleged victims have come forward since Epstein’s arrest and that more arrests are likely in the coming days.
According to them, at least three unnamed employees provided the paedophile-financier with underage girls.
In the past, Epstein has been connected with high-profile figures such as US President Donald Trump, former US president Bill Clinton and Britain’s Prince Andrew.