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Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein is accused of luring dozens of teenage girls to his lavish homes for the purpose of rampant sexual abuse—but after news of the wealthy financier’s arrest began to spread many of his alleged victims are speaking out.
"The news of my abuser's arrest today is a step in the right direction to finally hold Epstein accountable for his crimes and restore my faith that power and money can't triumph over justice," one of his alleged victims, Sarah Ransome, said in a statement read by her lawyer Monday outside the Manhattan courtroom where Epstein pleaded not guilty, according to The New York Post.
Epstein has been charged with sex trafficking, with prosecutors claiming he and several of his associates recruited a “vast network of underage victims for him to exploit” at his homes in New York and Florida. Some of the teens were reportedly as young as 14 years old.
Ransome is just one of the women who have come forward in recent years to detail the abuse they say they've suffered at the hands of the wealthy businessman.
Courtney Wild was still wearing braces when she met Epstein, she told ABC News.
The 14-year-old had been a former cheerleading captain, played trumpet in the band and was a good student at her Florida middle school when she said she crossed paths with Epstein, she told The Miami Herald in a 2018 investigative report that brought new focus to the case.
“Jeffrey preyed on girls who were in a bad way, girls who were basically homeless,” she said. “He went after girls who he thought no one would listen to and he was right.”
After Wild, who is now in her 30s, met Epstein she told the Miami paper she’d become a stripper, develop a drug habit and spend time behind bars.
She also admitted to recruiting other young girls for Epstein, claiming to have brought him somewhere between 70 and 80 underage girls over the years.
“He told me he wanted them as young as I could find them,” she said last year.
She described the financier as never being satisfied with the number of girls she was able to bring to his home.
“If I had a girl to bring him at breakfast, lunch and dinner, then that’s how many times I would go a day,” she said. “He wanted as many girls as I could get him.”
Michelle Licata told ABC News she was just 16 when a high school friend convinced her to go to Epstein’s home.
“He said, ‘God, you’re just so beautiful and sexy and gorgeous,’ and it was making me feel really uncomfortable,” she said of their first encounter.
Licata would later tell investigators in audio that aired on “Good Morning America” how the alleged abuse began between the pair.
“Then he wanted me to rub his back. And then he kept asking me to go lower and lower,” she said.
Epstein is accused of paying “hundreds of dollars in cash” for the underage girls to give him a massage—while the teens were either naked or partially nude, according to a federal indictment obtained by The New York Times.
The massages “would become increasingly sexual in nature, and would typically include one or more sex acts,” the indictment states.
Accuser Virginia Giuffre claims that the alleged abuse didn’t end there. She says Epstein forced her to have sex with his attorney Alan Dershowitz when she was just 16, CBS News reports. She’s currently suing Dershowitz for defamation.
After news of Epstein’s arrest broke, she said in a statement read by her attorney Monday that it was difficult for her to come up with the words to describe her emotions.
“But I can say without hesitation I am deeply pleased that the federal prosecutors in New York have arrested Jeffrey Epstein and our case is taken in a serious way,” she said.
Wild and Licata were both in court Monday as Epstein pleaded not guilty to the sex trafficking charges against him.
For Licata, Epstein’s arrest has brought a tremendous amount of relief.
“The first moment of finding out that Jeffrey Epstein was put in jail was so relieving to me,” she told ABC News. “I felt safer. I’ve waited for this one day just to happen and it’s finally come.”
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