New Mexico authorities are investigating whether Jeffrey Epstein, the New York financier accused of sex trafficking minor girls, victimized anyone at his ranch south of Santa Fe.
Epstein was indicted on new charges last week in Manhattan and had previously been convicted of soliciting a minor in 2008, which required him to register as a sex offender in New York and Florida.
But New Mexico law did not require Epstein to register as a sex offender because the victim in the 2008 case was 17 years old, which is the age of consent in New Mexico.
“New Mexico continues to lag behind the rest of the country in strengthening outdated and weak laws that fail to protect our children from abuse,” New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas told The Associated Press. “This is a huge black eye for our state.”
A spokesman for Balderas said his office has interviewed potential victims of Epstein who say they visited the New Mexico ranch, according to the Associated Press report.
It was not immediately clear Sunday how many accusers tied to New Mexico have come forward or have been interviewed.
One female reportedly alleged in a 2015 court filing that she was abused at multiple locations, including at the New Mexico ranch.
In the 2008 case, Epstein pleaded guilty to state criminal charges in Florida that he solicited a minor for prostitution. The deal required him to spend 13 months in jail, although he could leave jail on work release, and register as a sex offender. The agreement ended a federal investigation into sexual abuse of at least 40 teenage girls.
Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, who supervised the agreement while the top federal prosecutor in Miami, said Friday he would resign his cabinet post amid escalating calls for him to step down.
Observers have widely criticized the plea deal. A judge in February ruled that Acosta violated victims’ rights because his office did not notify them of the arrangement before agreeing to it, according to NBC News.
Epstein reportedly bought the New Mexico ranch from the family of a former governor there.
As for the new charges, Epstein has pleaded not guilty. A court hearing is scheduled for Monday on his application for bail as he awaits trial.