Billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein was arrested in New Jersey on July 6 based on new charges that he sex trafficked dozens of minor girls in the early 2000s, three law enforcement officials told The Associated Press.
Epstein, who is a registered sex offender, has largely managed to avoid major jail time, even after more than a decade of allegations that he abused minors. His arrest comes amid renewed scrutiny of a once-secret plea deal that ended a federal investigation against him.
The 66-year-old hedge fund manager—who has ties to numerous high-profile people including former President Bill Clinton, the UK’s Prince Andrew, actor Kevin Spacey, and director Woody Allen—is expected to appear in Manhattan federal court on July 8, the officials said.
Numerous allegations have been made over the years that Epstein operated an international child sex ring at his Palm Beach, Florida, mansion and 72-acre private island estate in the Caribbean. Clinton flew on Epstein’s infamous jet dubbed the “Lolita Express” at least 26 times, according to records obtained by Fox News in 2016.
In the new charges, Epstein is accused of paying underage girls for massages and molesting them at his homes in Florida and New York, one of the law enforcement officials said.
The billionaire is currently being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. He was arrested by the FBI-NYPD Crimes Against Children Task Force.
According to The Daily Beast, the new indictment will be unsealed on July 8 in federal court. Epstein could be put away for a maximum of 45 years if the expected charges of one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors are added.
Photos obtained by The Daily Mail document the aftermath of when FBI agents broke down the door to Epstein’s Upper East Side mansion to execute a search warrant. The door appeared damaged, with splinters.
The previous plea deal gave Epstein a chance to plead guilty to lesser state charges of soliciting and procuring a person under age 18 for prostitution. He was sentenced in 2008 to 13 months in prison, avoiding a potential life sentence. That deal is currently being challenged in Florida federal court.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra of Florida ruled earlier this year that Epstein’s victims, under federal law, should have been consulted about the deal, and he is now weighing whether to invalidate the nonprosecution agreement that protected Epstein from federal charges.
It wasn’t clear whether the cases involved the same victims, as nearly all have remained anonymous.
Federal prosecutors recently filed court papers in the Florida case contending that Epstein’s deal must stand. The victims in the Florida case have until July 8 to respond to the Justice Department’s filing.
Two of Epstein’s underage accusers, known as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2, filed a lawsuit after the 2008 sentencing, on grounds that they were never given an opportunity to express their opposition to the lenient plea. Marra ruled in their favor, albeit 11 years later.
According to Marra’s 33-page opinion, Epstein and his co-conspirators “knowingly traveled in interstate and international commerce” to commit sexual abuse and other “violations of not only Florida law, but also federal law.”
Epstein’s arrest came just days after a federal appeals court in New York ordered the unsealing of up to 2,000 pages of documents. They were part of a since-settled defamation case involving Epstein.
Independent journalist Mike Cernovich was the first person to file the lawsuit that ordered the recent unsealing of the documents in the Epstein case, marking a major legal victory. He said his 2017 suit brought renewed scrutiny, with the Miami Herald later joining his suit on appeal.
“Nobody cared about Jeffery Epstein in the prosecutors office,” Cernovich told The Epoch Times on July 7. “They wanted a cover-up but they realized, now that these records were becoming unsealed, that they can’t cover [for] him anymore.
“He got away with all kinds of crimes probably because he had powerful friends up top. … Then, the civil lawsuit was sealed so nobody knew what the allegations were in the lawsuit, which allowed him to continue covering up his behavior.”
Cernovich said that when they were litigating the case, the federal government didn’t file any lawsuits. After they won, the judges said they were going to release all the documents, which he said led to the arrest.
“The files in the civil lawsuit are so bad that the feds would be humiliated and embarrassed, and look complicit in all of this if they hadn’t taken any action,” he added. “People are going to know the truth about what happened.”
According to court records in Florida, authorities say at least 40 underage girls were brought to Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion for what turned into sexual encounters after female fixers looked for suitable girls locally, in Eastern Europe, and in other parts of the world.
Some girls were also allegedly brought to Epstein’s homes in New York and New Mexico and on his private Caribbean island, court documents said.
Christine Pelosi, a political strategist and daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), hinted on Twitter that “some of our faves” could be implicated.
“This Epstein case is horrific and the young women deserve justice,” she said. “It is quite likely that some of our faves are implicated but we must follow the facts and let the chips fall where they may – whether on Republicans or Democrats.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.