Jeffrey Epstein sexually abused and trafficked young women and girls, some as young as 13, on his two private islands in the Caribbean over nearly two decades, the top law enforcement official in the U.S. Virgin Islands announced at a news conference Wednesday.
The revelation expands the range of allegations against the wealthy financier, whose death in a New York City jail cell last year has been ruled a suicide.
A new civil suit against Epstein’s estate and six associated entities details an “expansive scheme of human trafficking and sexual abuse,” said Denise N. George, the attorney general of the U.S. territory, who filed the complaint Wednesday.
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“The complaint speaks for itself and lays out allegations of a pattern and practice of human trafficking, sexual abuse and forced labor of young women and female children as young as 13 years old,” George told reporters at a news conference.
She added that the alleged activities often took place at Epstein’s private islands, known as Little Saint James and Great Saint James.
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The lawsuit alleges that Epstein formed associations with people who participated in and concealed the billionaire’s illicit activities in exchange for money and sex acts from the young female victims. It refers to the alleged sex trafficking and abuse scheme as the “Epstein Enterprise” throughout the filing.
The complaint also claims that Epstein’s estate in the U.S. Virgin Islands was built illegally, which will cost the government significant expenses to remove.
“The Epstein Enterprise’s violation of the construction and environmental laws was part of a pattern of behavior in flouting the laws of the Virgin Islands and holding itself above the law,” the document stated.
Epstein’s estate has continued in his efforts to conceal the “Epstein Enterprise” criminal activity since the billionaire’s death and to “shield its participants from liability and accountability,” the suit alleged.
The Epstein estate denied allegations in the lawsuit that it required participants in its victim’s compensation fund to sign confidentiality agreements, but refused any further comment on the filing.
“The Estate is being administered in accordance with the laws of the U.S. Virgin Islands and under the supervision of the Superior Court of the U.S. Virgin Islands,” the statement Wednesday said. “The Co-Executors will not otherwise comment on this or any other pending litigation.”
Epstein, who was found hanged inside the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan in August, was previously charged by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges. He was facing up to 45 years in prison if convicted on those charges.
The prosecutors in that case said Epstein, who was 66 at the time of his death, sexually abused dozens of underage girls at his properties in New York and Florida in the early 2000s. He was also accused of paying his victims to recruit others, allowing him to build a vast network of girls to exploit.
Epstein and his lawyers had denied the charges against him. NBC News was unable to reach Epstein’s executor, Darren Indyke, for comment.
Epstein bought Little Saint James off the coast of St. Thomas for $7.95 million in 1998, NBC News has previously reported. He went on to build a vast estate featuring a 24,000 square foot private residence, two pools, a spa and a blue-striped structure that drew intense scrutiny online.
Diana Dasrath , Rich Schapiro and Doha Madani contributed.