Judge denies Jeffrey Epstein bail in child sex trafficking case

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Courtroom sketch showing Jeffrey Epstein at his bail hearing in New York on July 15th, 2019.
Artist: Christine Cornell

A federal judge on Thursday denied bail to wealthy investor Jeffrey Epstein, who has been locked up since his arrest nearly two weeks ago on child sex trafficking charges.

The decision in U.S. District Court in Manhattan means that the 66-year-old Epstein will remain in jail pending trial in the case, where he faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted.

Epstein had asked Judge Richard Berman to release him on a bond of as high as $100 million or more, with conditions that would include requiring him to remain in his New York City mansion, round-the-clock security monitoring and an electronic trafficking device.

Prosecutors wanted to keep Epstein locked up without bail, calling him a serious flight risk, and a danger to the public. They also have said that in recent months Epstein had made payments to “co-conspirators who might provide information against him.”

Epstein, a former friend of presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, was arrested July 6 at a New Jersey airport after a federal grand jury in Manhattan indicted him on a charge of sex trafficking, and conspiring to commit sex trafficking.

The indictment alleges that Epstein sexually abused dozens of underage girls at his Upper East Side, Manhattan, townhouse, and his Palm Beach, Fla., mansion from 2002 through 2005.

During a raid of his townhouse after his arrest, authorities found what prosecutors have called a “vast trove” of lewd photos of young women, as well as piles of cash and diamonds.

At least one of the women in the photos has been identified as someone who was underage at the time the pictures were taken, according to prosecutors.

Investigators also found an expired Austrian passport dating to the 1980s, which featured Epstein’s photo but the name of someone else.

Prosecutors said Wednesday that there was stamps on that passport showing that it had been used for travel overseas multiple times in the 1980s.

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U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein appears in a photograph taken for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services’ sex offender registry March 28, 2017 and obtained by Reuters July 10, 2019. New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services/Handout via REUTERS.
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services | Handout | Reuters

Last week, Trump’s Labor secretary, Alex Acosta, resigned after heavy criticism for cutting a deal with Epstein in 2007 —when Acosta was the top federal prosecutor in Miami — that allowed Epstein to escape federal criminal charges related to his alleged abuse of girls.

In exchange for that deal, Epstein agreed to plead guilty to prostitution-related charges filed by Florida state prosecutors, and to register as a sex offender.

He was jailed for 13 months in that case, but spent most of his time on work release. A lawyer for a number of Epstein’s accusers said this week that while on work release in his office, Epstein had sexual contact with at least one woman.

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