Wealthy financier and registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was arrested Saturday in New York on new sex-trafficking charges involving allegations that date to the early 2000s, according to law enforcement officials.
Epstein, a wealthy hedge fund manager who once counted as friends former President Clinton, Great Britain’s Prince Andrew and President Trump, was taken into federal custody and is expected to appear Monday in federal court in Manhattan, three law enforcement officials told the Associated Press.
One of the officials said Epstein is accused of paying underage girls for massages and molesting them at his homes in Florida and New York.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the pending case.
A message was sent to his defense attorney seeking comment.
Epstein’s arrest, first reported by the Daily Beast, comes amid renewed scrutiny of a once-secret plea deal that ended a federal investigation against him.
That deal, which is being challenged in Florida federal court, allowed Epstein to plead guilty to lesser state charges of soliciting and procuring a person under age 18 for prostitution.
He averted a possible life sentence and instead was sentenced to 13 months in jail. The deal also required he reach financial settlements with dozens of his once-teenage victims and register as a sex offender.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra of Florida is now weighing whether to undo the nonprosecution agreement, known as an NPA, that was part of the deal and protected Epstein from federal charges.
It was not immediately clear whether the cases involved the same victims since nearly all have remained anonymous.
Federal prosecutors recently filed court papers in that case contending Epstein’s deal must stand despite victims’ claims that authorities violated their rights by not consulting them about the lenient treatment.
“The past cannot be undone; the government committed itself to the NPA, and the parties have not disputed that Epstein complied with its provisions,” prosecutors wrote in the filing.
They acknowledged, however, that the failure to consult victims “fell short of the government’s dedication to serve victims to the best of its ability.”
The victims in the Florida case have until Monday to respond to the Justice Department’s filing.
According to court records in Florida, authorities say at least 40 underage girls were brought into Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion for what turned into sexual encounters after female fixers looked for suitable girls locally, in Eastern Europe and beyond.
Some girls were allegedly brought to Epstein’s homes in New York City, New Mexico and on a private Caribbean island, according to court documents.
Epstein’s deal was overseen by former Miami U.S. Atty. R. Alexander Acosta, who is now Trump’s Labor secretary. Acosta has defended the plea deal as appropriate under the circumstances.
Saturday’s arrest came just days after a federal appeals court in New York ordered the unsealing of nearly 2,000 pages of records in a since-settled defamation case involving Epstein.