Epstein refused bail while awaiting sex trafficking trial
Billionaire money man 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 District Court Judge Richard Berman said on Thursday (local time).
“I doubt that any bail package could can overcome a danger to the community.”
The financier has been jailed in the Metropolitan Correctional Centre 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 Mr Epstein with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy.
Lawyers for Mr 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, he had been on the straight and narrow, they said.
Mr Epstein’s lawyers had also argued conditions such as house arrest, and a mortgage-backed bond on his approximately $56 million Upper East Side mansion, would have mitigated any risk of flight.
But prosecutors portrayed Mr Epstein as posing a risk.
Authorities found possibly thousands of photographs in Mr Epstein’s home showing young women, and “at least one of the individuals in the photos… has self-identified as a victim of the defendant,” Prosecutor Alex Rossmiller told Mr 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 the passport that is not the defendant’s name,” Mr Rossmiller also said.
The passport, which listed Epstein’s coutnry 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 argues in court papers following the proceedings.
Mr Esptein’s lawyers downplayed the document, saying it was an Austrian passport that expired more than 30 years ago.
—”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,” Mr Epstein’s lawyers said in court papers after the proceedings.
“In any case, Epstein — an affluent member of the Jewish faith — acquired the passport in the 1980’s, 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 kidnappers, hijackers or terrorists should violent episodes occur,” they said.
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