02:43 GMT01 August 2021
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    Financier Jeffrey Epstein, who is known to have widely socialised with the political and cultural elite, appeared in court on Monday, rejecting the sexual abuse allegations and pleading not guilty to the charges he is facing.

    Hundreds, and possibly thousands, of “sexually suggestive” photographs of nude underage girls have been seized from Jeffrey Epstein’s Big Apple estate as part of an ongoing investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations brought against the 66-year-old billionaire financier, prosecutors stated Monday, adding that the cache was found around the same time the billionaire was arrested at Teterboro Airport as he arrived in the US from Paris aboard his private jet.

    Earlier in the day, state prosecutors unsealed an indictment charging Epstein with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy, targeting dozens of victims, some of whom were no older than 14. If convicted, Epstein faces up to 45 years behind bars.

    Separately, prosecutors appealed to other women who may potentially come forward in the case, while the hedge fund magnate issued a non-guilty plea.

    Mr. Epstein “is not reformed, he is not chastened, he is not repentant,” prosecutors wrote to the judge, arguing against bail.

    The indictment accuses Mr. Epstein, 66, of engaging in sex acts with dozens of vulnerable minors, some as young as 14, during naked massage sessions, before paying them hundreds of dollars in cash so that they would recruit other underage girls.

    The former hedge fund manager, well known for rubbing shoulders with show biz celebs and politicians, including former President Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, as well as royalty, first became a subject of investigation in 2005 after police in Palm Beach, Florida, received reports he had sexually abused minors in his lavish mansions there. Epstein said in court filings that his encounters with alleged victims were consensual and that he believed they were over 18 when they happened.

    Epstein had initially reached a controversial plea deal in Florida over the case, thereby avoiding federal prosecution on the said charges. The deal has since been challenged in court by a number of Epstein's accusers, who argued they had been denied a chance to voice their testimony in violation of the federal Crime Victims' Rights Act - a fact later confirmed by a Florida judge.


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