Jeffrey Epstein sexual abuse case could push powerful friends into spotlight

Edward Helmore
Photograph: Davidoff Studios Photography/Getty Images

The sex trafficking case against Jeffrey Epstein, unveiled by prosecutors from the southern district of New York in Manhattan, may have implications for many men who have come in and out of Epstein’s social circle.

Related: Jeffrey Epstein expected to make court appearance on sex trafficking charges

Over the weekend, Christine Pelosi, a Democratic National Committee official and the daughter of House speaker Nancy Pelosi, warned darkly of a “horrific” case that could include names that have come up repeatedly in connection with the billionaire Wall Street financier.

After Epstein’s arrest on Saturday at a private airport in New Jersey, Pelosi’s daughter tweeted: “This Epstein case is horrific and the young women deserve justice. It is quite likely that some of our faves are implicated but we must follow the facts and let the chips fall where they may – whether on Republicans or Democrats.”

Epstein has counted Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew among his friends and associates.

The counts against Epstein allege that he drew dozens of underage girls to his home on the Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan. Prosecutors will allege some of the girls were as young as 14. If convicted, Epstein could face up to 45 years in federal prison, according to the New York Times.

The fresh move against Epstein follows on the failure of Alexander Acosta, now Trump’s labor secretary but then a Miami federal prosecutor, to bring Epstein to court on a 53-page indictment by cutting a widely criticized plea deal that was seen as far too lenient.

The deal, cut a decade ago, allowed Epstein to avoid federal charges if he agreed to one count of solicitation. It included an agreement with prosecutors to not go after co-conspirators, which could put Epstein in a powerful position to tell other stories prosecutors may want to hear.

In February, a judge ruled that prosecutors overseeing the sexual abuse case violated the law by concealing from Epstein’s underage alleged victims the existence of the plea deal that shielded him from federal charges.

As the Epstein saga moves back into public view the White House could come under the spotlight. Trump was a sometime member of Epstein’s social set and told New York magazine in 2002 he was a “terrific guy” he had known for 15 years.

“He’s a lot of fun to be with,” Trump said. “It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”

Flight logs from Epstein’s private jet showed that former president Bill Clinton took at least 26 trips aboard the plane between 2001 and 2003 – the same period from which the new charges are believed to stem.