In fact, Mr. Epstein has long had links to a wide array of high-profile officials, celebrities and business moguls — from Mr. Trump to Bill Clinton to Prince Andrew.
In the era of #MeToo, Mr. Epstein’s case had remained stubbornly unresolved. For years, women have accused Mr. Epstein, in civil lawsuits and in complaints to the police, of preying on them when they were underage. Still, for more than a decade he was shielded from federal charges by his secret plea deal.
That will end on Monday, two law enforcement officials said.
Mr. Epstein is charged with using his vast network of contacts and associates to bring a constant stream of underage girls to his Manhattan townhouse, one law enforcement official said. He is accused of shuttling the girls between the townhouse and his home in Palm Beach, Fla., paying them in cash and urging them to recruit other underage girls to visit his home.
The girls were initially recruited to give him massages. But he frequently escalated the encounters into sex acts, a law enforcement source said, including groping and touching the girls’ genitals. This pattern continued from at least 2002 to 2005, the source said.
On Saturday, a neighbor near an East 71st Street home purchased by Mr. Epstein in the mid-1990s, took a photograph, reviewed by The New York Times, that showed F.B.I. agents and New York Police Department officers using a crow bar to force open the mansion’s tall wooden doors.
The mansion, which runs along East 71st Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues, has been called one of the largest townhouses in Manhattan. It contains at least seven floors and covers 21,000 square feet.
A spokesman for the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan declined to comment on Sunday. A lawyer for Mr. Epstein could not immediately be reached for comment.
Women who said they were victims of Mr. Epstein when they were girls have previously described being assaulted at the Upper East Side residence. One of his accusers, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, said in court documents that Mr. Epstein forced her to have sex with him at the mansion. She settled a separate lawsuit against Mr. Epstein in 2009.
Mr. Epstein had earlier been accused of maintaining a similar arrangement at his mansion in Palm Beach, after the parents of one of Mr. Epstein’s alleged victims approached the police there in 2005. That case ballooned rapidly, according to documents reviewed by the Miami Herald: Officials soon identified at least 36 potential victims.
In all, investigators found abuse dating back to 2001, with victims as young as 13. A subsequent investigation by the Herald identified more than 60 victims, and witnesses have testified in later civil cases that the number may have reached into the hundreds.
Federal prosecutors in Miami prepared a sweeping 53-page federal indictment against Mr. Epstein. But in 2008, it was abruptly shelved, after prosecutors negotiated a secret deal with Mr. Epstein’s lawyers. Prosecutors did not tell the victims about the deal they made with Mr. Epstein until after a judge approved it.
Instead of facing life in prison, Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty to two prostitution charges in state court and served about a year in a Palm Beach jail, though he was allowed to leave the facility six days a week, 12 hours a day on work-release privileges.
Mr. Epstein’s deal also shielded any co-conspirators who may have helped to arrange his sexual rendezvous and stayed in contact with his victims.
That deal was negotiated in part by Alexander Acosta, the former United States attorney in the Southern District of Florida, who now serves as Mr. Trump’s labor secretary. Mr. Acosta met privately with a lawyer for Mr. Epstein, and his office allowed the financier’s lawyers to dictate many of the plea deal’s terms, the Herald reported last year.