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Jeffrey Epstein, a billionaire New York financier long accused of molesting dozens of young girls, has been charged by federal prosecutors with sex trafficking, two people with knowledge of the case said Saturday night.

Epstein was arrested in the New York area and was expected to appear before a federal magistrate Monday.

Epstein had avoided federal criminal charges in 2007 and 2008 in a widely criticized plea deal after he was accused of paying dozens of underage girls for sexual massages in Florida.

He pleaded guilty to lesser state charges of soliciting prostitution, served 13 months in a county lockup and registered as a sex offender. His extraordinary jail arrangement allowed him to get out of the Palm Beach County Stockade six days a week to work out of his office.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, which brought the charges against Epstein, declined to comment Saturday night.

In the Florida investigation, the authorities found that Epstein paid cash to dozens of girls, some of them as young as 14 or 15, to give him nude massages that often ended in masturbation, oral sex or, in at least one case, rape.

Some of the girls were runaways or foster children; Epstein would ask some girls to recruit others to bring to his properties. The encounters took place from 1999 to 2005.

The charges against Epstein were first reported on Saturday night by The Daily Beast.

The plea deal that protected Epstein from federal charges was signed by the top federal prosecutor in Miami at the time, R. Alexander Acosta, who is now President Donald Trump’s labor secretary.

In February, a judge in Florida ruled that the prosecutors led by Acosta violated federal law when they failed to disclose Epstein’s nonprosecution agreement to his victims. The agreement was negotiated in secret while victims were told prosecutors were still pursuing a possible federal criminal case.

New York Times

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