Wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein was charged with the sex trafficking of "dozens" of underage girls in federal indictment unsealed Monday morning in New York in advance of a court appearance there by the one-time friend of President Donald Trump and ex-President Bill Clinton.
Epstein, 66, is accused in the indictment of sexually exploiting many "minor girls" between 2002 and 2005 in New York and Florida, according to prosecutors, who urged any other women who were abused by Epstein to contact the FBI.
Some of the girls were as young as 14 at the time of the alleged abuse, according to court records in Manhattan federal court, where Epstein is charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors, and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors.
Epstein faces a maximum sentence of 45 years in prison if convicted.
"The alleged behavior shocks the conscience," said Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, at a press conference, where he also said his office planned to ask a judge to detain Epstein pending trial without bail.
"We believe he has every incentive to flee the jurisdiction," said Berman.
The prosecutor noted that federal agents, while executing a search warrant, had seized "nude photographs of what appeared to be underage girls" from Epstein's New York mansion on Saturday.
The case if being handled by the "public corruption unit" of Berman's office.
The indictment says Epstein, who was arrested on Saturday after flying back to the United States from France, would give the girls he is accused of abusing "hundreds of dollars in cash" after they engaged in sex acts with him at his mansion on East 71st Street on Manhattan's Upper East Side, or at his Palm Beach, Florida, estate.
The girls allegedly were originally lured into contact with Epstein under the pretext that they would be giving him "massages," according to the indictment.
And "in order to maintain and increase his supply of victims, Epstein also paid certain of his victims to recruit additional girls to be similarly abused by Epstein," the indictment said.