Jeffrey Epstein denied bail while awaiting sex trafficking trial

Federal judge rules financier is a ‘danger to others’ while awaiting trial for the alleged sexual abuse of underage girls from 2002 to 2005

Jeffrey Epstein has been denied bail while awaiting a federal sex trafficking trial in New York.

“The government has established danger to others and to the community by clear and convincing evidence,” the Manhattan federal court Judge Richard Berman said on Thursday. “I doubt that any bail package can overcome a danger to the community.”

The financier – who has claimed a net worth of about $560m – has been jailed in the Metropolitan Correctional Center since his 6 July arrest for alleged sexual abuse of underage girls from 2002 to 2005. Some of his victims were just 14 years old, according to a 13-page indictment charging Epstein with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy.

Lawyers for Epstein, who became a registered sex offender after another case in Florida 11 years ago, had argued the 66-year-old did not pose a danger. After his 2008 guilty plea to state prostitution charges and 13 months behind bars that ensued, he has been on the straight and narrow, they claimed.

Epstein’s lawyers had also argued conditions such as house arrest, and a mortgage-backed bond on his approximately $56m Upper East Side manse, would have mitigated any risk of flight.

But prosecutors portrayed Epstein as posing a risk. Authorities found possibly thousands of photographs in Epstein’s home showing young women, and “at least one individual in those photos … has self-identified as a victim of the defendant,” prosecutor Alex Rossmiller told Berman during Monday’s bail arguments.

“Just this morning, the government became aware that in a locked safe in the defendant’s mansion there were piles of cash, dozens of diamonds, and a passport appearing to be issued from a foreign country with a photo of the defendant and a name on that passport that is not the defendant’s name,” Rossmiller also said.

The passport, which listed Epstein’s country of residence as Saudi Arabia, “gives rise to the inference the defendant knows how to obtain false travel documents and/or assume other, foreign identities. This adds to the serious risk of flight posed by the defendant,” prosecutors argued in court papers following the proceeding.

Epstein’s lawyers downplayed the document, saying it was an Austrian passport that expired more than 30 years ago.

Brown also exposed a government cover-up in which Epstein got away with an exceptionally light sentence that saw him serve only 13 months in jail. She discovered that a “non-prosecution agreement” had been negotiated secretly in 2008 by the then top federal prosecutor in Miami, Alexander Acosta, that gave Epstein and his co-conspirators immunity from federal prosecution.

In 2017, Acosta was appointed by Donald Trump as labor secretary, a post that ironically is responsible for combating sex trafficking.

“As for the Austrian passport the government trumpets, it expired 32 years ago. And the government offers nothing to suggest – and certainly no evidence – that Epstein ever used it,” Epstein’s lawyers said in court papers after the proceeding. “In any case, Epstein – an affluent member of the Jewish faith – acquired the passport in the 1980s, when hijackings were prevalent, in connection to Middle East travel.”

“The passport was for personal protection in the event of travel to dangerous areas, only to be presented to potential kidnapers, hijackers or terrorists should violent episodes occur,” they said.

Epstein’s case in New York comes in the wake of a watershed Miami Herald investigation that detailed secretive dealings with his 2008 plea deal.

In 2007, Esptein and the Miami US attorney’s office, at the time helmed by Alexander Acosta, entered into an agreement that closed a federal investigation into accusations involving a least 40 teenage girls.

Six days after Epsein’s arrest, Acosta resigned as Trump’s labor secretary.

Contributor

Victoria Bekiempis in New York

The GuardianTramp

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