Jeffrey Epstein lured underage girls for sex acts - prosecutors

Alexander Acosta after becoming Dean of the Florida International University College of Law 2009

Alexander Acosta after becoming Dean of the Florida International University College of Law 2009

Geoffrey Berman, the US attorney for the Southern District of NY, said he would ask that Epstein be detained until trial.

"We are proud to be standing up for them by bringing this indictment".

Epstein, once a friend of Britain's Prince Andrew, former US President Bill Clinton and President Donald Trump, was previously accused of abusing dozens of teenage girls between 1999 and 2007. None of those people was mentioned in the indictment.

Some of Mr Epstein's accusers welcomed the indictment.

He defended the deal for having Epstein, a billionaire, register as a sex offender, plead guilty, and serve prison time, while avoiding the risks of a trial. He was jailed for a bail hearing next Monday, when prosecutors plan to argue that the rich world traveler might flee if released. "The charges are very serious and carry with them a maximum sentence of 45 years, which to someone of Epstein's age is basically a life sentence", Berman said, "so we think he has every incentive to try and flee the jurisdiction".

The hedge fund manager was arrested on Saturday at Teterboro Airport after arriving from France on his private jet and was due to appear in court.

Mr Berman appealed to anyone who may have been a victim or have information to come forward.

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"The last couple of years have helped build this environment where the public isn't willing to see these cases swept under the rug anymore", said Scott Berkowitz, president of RAINN, the anti-sexual violence organization.

Berman declined to discuss media speculation about people affiliated or associated with Epstein, telling reporters: "I urge you not to read into that one way or the other".

Schumer's question about Trump's relationship with Acosta referred to a 2002 NY magazine article in which Trump was quoted as saying that Epstein "was a "terrific guy" who enjoyed women 'on the younger side'".

'What happened 12 or 15 years ago with respect to when he was a US attorney, I think in Miami - was it Miami? - you know, if you go back and look at everybody else's decisions, whether it's a USA attorney or an assistant US attorney or a judge, you go back 12 or 15 years ago or 20 years ago, and look at their past decisions, I would think you'd probably find that they'd wish they maybe did it a different way, ' Trump said. "He's a lot of fun to be with".

The women said they hoped Epstein this time stays behind bars permanently. "No doubt about it - Jeffrey enjoys his social life", he said.

Michelle Licata, who was 16, revealed how Epstein said, "God, you're just so handsome and sexy and gorgeous" while pressing her to rub his back at his Palm Beach, Florida estate. "He's not spoken to Epstein in well over a decade".

Epstein first came under investigation in 2005 after police in Palm Beach, Florida received reports that he had sexually abused minors in his mansion there.

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Federal prosecutors identified three dozen alleged victims. He ultimately served 13 months, but was allowed to spend half of most days at his Palm Beach office on a work-release program, a disposition of the case that the Miami Herald newspaper called the "deal of a lifetime".

Some of Epstein's accusers have criticized that agreement as too lenient. There's no longer a reason to speculate because the indictment was unsealed on Monday morning.

Epstein's lawyer, Jack Goldberger, said his client will plead not guilty.

"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", said a statement by one of the women, Sarah Ransome.

Earlier this year, a Florida judge ruled that federal prosecutors broke the law by not informing Epstein's victims of the plea deal at the time.

FILE PHOTO - U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta takes part in a forum called Generation Next at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2018.

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