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Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking as prosecutors claim the wealthy financier lured dozens of underage girls to his mansions in Manhattan and Palm Beach for sex acts.
Epstein, who donned a dark blue prison uniform and orange shoes, entered the plea Monday in a Manhattan federal courtroom as some of his alleged victims looked on, according to The New York Post.
Prosecutors have alleged that Epstein, a convicted sex offender who once rubbed elbows with some of the nation’s most powerful leaders including former President Bill Clinton and President Donald Trump, was able to create a “vast network of underage victims for him to exploit” at his homes in New York and Florida from 2002 to 2005, according to an indictment obtained by The New York Times.
Epstein allegedly recruited underage girls, some as young as 14 years old, to give him massages while the teens were nude or partially nude.
These massages “would become increasingly sexual in nature, and would typically include one or more sex acts,” the indictment states.
Acts outlined in the indictment included groping, direct and indirect contact with the victim’s genitals, and touching the victim’s genitals with his hands or sex toys.
The girls were paid “hundreds of dollars in cash” for the acts and were often encouraged to recruit other minors to become part of the billionaire’s alleged “network,” the indictment states.
Epstein was arrested and taken into custody Saturday as he stepped off a private jet at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey.
New court documents filed in the case say that federal prosecutors have “devastating evidence” against the wealthy financier, according to The New York Post.
“The defendant, a registered sex offender, is not reformed, he is not chastened, he is not repentant; rather he is a continuing danger to the community and an individual who faces devastating evidence supporting deeply serious charges,” the prosecutors wrote.
Over the weekend, investigators used a crow bar to gain access to Epstein’s Upper East Side townhome where they allegedly found hundreds of images of naked women—some of which are believed to depict underage girls, local station WNBC reports.
The federal charges against Epstein come more than a decade after he received a secret plea deal in Florida that allowed him to plead guilty to two prostitution charges in exchange for immunity from federal prosecution for his alleged deeds with minors in Florida, according to The Miami Herald.
Epstein’s defense team said in court Monday that the latest charges against him were simply related to old prostitution allegations against him, which Epstein has already served time behind bars for as part of the earlier plea deal.
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