07:39 GMT +317 November 2019
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     Jeffrey Epstein, left, and his attorney Martin Weinberg listen during a bail hearing in federal court

    Epstein Could Have “Improper Sexual Contact” During Earlier Jail Term - Report

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    A lawyer for several purported victims of registered sex offender and alleged billionaire child trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, Brad Edwards, said Tuesday that the notorious American financier had “improper sexual contact” with “female visitors” while he was on work release during earlier jail time, local media reported.

    In particular, Edwards said "It was sexual in nature [...] The female visitors were not there for business", according to Fox News.

    The New York Post quoted Edwards as saying that Epstein "was having office visitors — some of whom were flown to him from New York — and continuing to engage in similar conduct literally while he was in quote-unquote jail".

    Epstein, 66, was previously targeted by an investigation in 2005 over allegations that he solicited sexual services from girls as young as 14 or 15 years, and allegedly loaned the girls to other people for sexual exploits. However, Epstein reportedly reached a plea deal with prosecutors by pleading guilty to charges of soliciting prostitution, registering as a sex offender and serving only 13 months in prison.

    US Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta announced his resignation after intense public scrutiny over his role in approving a 2007 non-prosecution agreement with Epstein. As a US attorney in Florida, Acosta at the time did not prosecute Epstein on federal sex trafficking charges, but reportedly agreed in a secret deal to the lesser counts. The sentence reportedly allowed Epstein to spend 12 hours a day on work release.

    Edwards also alleged Tuesday that a Florida woman has claimed Epstein abused her during his work release.

    “Once there, he used his perfect master manipulation to turn the situation into something sexual [...] Not one of the individuals was a prostitute. These were all people who at the time that wanted something. They came over under false pretenses and he manipulated them and now his attorneys have labeled them prostitutes”, Edwards said, cited by Fox News.

    When Epstein was charged in Florida, he reached a deal to avoid federal prosecution by pleading guilty to a state prostitution charge and registering as a sex offender.

    Meanwhile, Federal prosecutors in the state of New York indicted Epstein last week on charges of running a sex-trafficking operation that lured dozens of underage girls to sex parties in his New York residence and his estate in Florida between 2002-2005.

    US District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan is reportedly expected to announce his decision on Thursday. Epstein faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted.

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