WORLD US billionaire pleads not guilty to sex trafficking charges


US billionaire pleads not guilty to sex trafficking charges


07:23, July 09, 2019


United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman speaks during a news conference, in New York, Monday, July 8, 2019. (Photo: AP)

NEW YORK, July 8 (Xinhua) -- US Financier Jeffrey Epstein pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges of sex trafficking underaged women and conspiracy.

An indictment unsealed on Monday showed that the 66-year-old billionaire was accused of sexually exploiting and abusing dozens of girls as young as 14 from at least 2002 to 2005.

Federal prosecutors said the former hedge fund manager had lured those girls to his homes in New York and Florida, among other places, and paid them for sex acts. He also paid some of his victims to recruit more underaged girls, according to the indictment.

Nude photos of young girls have been seized from the billionaire's home in Manhattan after his arrest on Saturday night in New Jersey, said prosecutors.

"While the charged conduct is from a number of years ago, it is still profoundly important to the many alleged victims - now young women... They deserve their day in court. We are proud to be standing up for them by bringing this indictment," said US Attorney Geoffrey Berman of New York.

Prosecutors said they would seek to keep him in jail until the bail hearing scheduled to take place within a week.

According to US media reports, Epstein was previously convicted on similar charges some 11 years ago in Florida. He avoided federal prosecution and was thus spared from a lengthy jail time by pleading guilty to state charges under a plea deal. He stayed 13 months in a county jail and was allowed to go to his office during the day.

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