Investigators seized nude photographs of underage girls from the Manhattan townhouse of Jeffrey Epstein as part of a new investigation into allegations he exploited dozens of minors for sex, prosecutors revealed on Monday.
That detail was disclosed by federal prosecutors on Monday as they unsealed an indictment charging Mr. Epstein with sex trafficking and made an appeal to other women who may have been abused by him to come forward.
“They deserve their day in court and we are proud to stand up for them by bringing this indictment,” the United States attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey S. Berman, said.
Hundreds, and possibly thousands, of “sexually suggestive” pictures of nude or partially nude girls were found during a search of Mr. Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse on Saturday, conducted at roughly the same time the billionaire financier was arrested at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, prosecutors said.
The cache of photos, some of which were discovered in a locked safe that also contained CDs with labels like “Girl pics nude,” demonstrate the predatory attitude that Mr. Epstein, a registered sex offender, had toward underage girls, prosecutors said in a detention memo filed on Monday.
Mr. Epstein “is not reformed, he is not chastened, he is not repentant,” prosecutors wrote to the judge, arguing against bail.
Mr. Epstein, 66, is accused of engaging in sex acts with dozens of vulnerable minors, some as young as 14, during naked massage sessions, then paying them hundreds of dollars in cash. He also asked some of the girls to recruit other underage girls, the indictment said.
“In this way, Epstein created a vast network of underage victims for him to sexually exploit in locations including New York and Palm Beach,” the indictment states.
Mr. Berman’s decision to seek an indictment in Manhattan was an implicit rebuke to the decision by prosecutors in Miami in 2008 to enter an agreement with Mr. Epstein that allowed him to avoid federal prosecution and a possible life sentence.
Under that deal, Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty to state prostitution charges and spent about a year in a Palm Beach jail and was required to register as a sex offender. He was permitted to leave the facility six days a week to work.
Mr. Berman made it clear that his office was not bound by the 2008 agreement, which was overseen by Alexander Acosta, then the United States attorney in Miami, and now President Trump’s labor secretary.
“That agreement, by its terms, only binds the Southern District of Florida,” Mr. Berman said.
The agreement has been examined in a series of reports in the Miami Herald and is being challenged in court. A federal judge ruled earlier this year that Mr. Epstein’s accusers should have been consulted about the deal before it was signed.
The indictment unsealed in Manhattan on Monday said that from 2002 to 2005 Mr. Epstein and his employees engaged in a sex-trafficking scheme, bringing underage girls to his Upper East Side mansion and to his palatial compound in Palm Beach, Fla., to engage in sex acts with him.
He is charged with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy. He faces a combined maximum sentence of up to 45 years in prison if convicted. Mr. Berman said prosecutors would seek to have Mr. Epstein held without bail, given his immense wealth and access to private jets.
The government also said in court papers that prosecutors have “real concerns,” based on past experience, that Mr. Epstein, if freed on bail, could attempt to “pressure and intimidate” witnesses, including his accusers and their families.
Prosecutors are also seeking the forfeiture of Mr. Epstein’s home on East 71st Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues, which has been called one of the largest townhouses in Manhattan. It has at least seven floors and covers 21,000 square feet.
The indictment said Mr. Epstein used employees and assistants to arrange sexual rendezvous with at least one girl at his New York residence and two at his home in Palm Beach.
Mr. Epstein is accused of having the girls perform nude massages, at which point he would masturbate and touch their genitals with his hands or with sex toys.
The girls were paid hundreds of dollars in cash for each encounter and, once recruited, were asked to return to the mansion several times, where they were abused again, the indictment said. Mr. Epstein, the court documents read, “created a similar network of minor girls to victimize” in Florida.
“This conduct, as alleged, went on for years and involved dozens of young girls, some as young as 14,” Mr. Berman said. “The alleged behavior shocks the conscience.”
The charges unsealed Monday by the Southern District of New York signal a prosecution that some of his accusers have been awaiting for years.
Accusations of pedophilia and sexual predation have dogged Mr. Epstein for decades. And now, in the #MeToo era, his case had been held up as a prime example of insulated, powerful men avoiding accountability.
For more than a decade, Mr. Epstein, a hedge fund manager, avoided a lengthy prison sentence, largely because of the agreement his lawyers struck with federal prosecutors in 2008.
Mr. Epstein’s social circle is filled with the rich and famous, including former President Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew of Britain.
“He’s a lot of fun to be with,” Mr. Trump told New York Magazine. “It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”
The charges unsealed Monday mirror those that federal prosecutors had prepared in Miami against Mr. Epstein more than a decade ago. In 2005, law enforcement officials there investigated Mr. Epstein after the parents of one of his accusers reported an incident to the police.
As first reported in the Miami Herald last year, prosecutors had prepared a 53-page indictment accusing Mr. Epstein of being a sexual predator. But those charges were shelved in 2008 after an 11th-hour deal was reached between the United States attorney’s office in Miami and Mr. Epstein’s lawyers.
The plea agreement granted Mr. Epstein immunity from federal prosecution and let him plead guilty to two prostitution charges in state court. Federal prosecutors arranged for the plea deal to be kept secret from Mr. Epstein’s accusers until it was finalized in court.
In April, a federal judge ruled that prosecutors had violated the law in offering the plea agreement without informing Mr. Epstein’s accusers. The Justice Department also opened an investigation into the incident in February.