- US District Judge Richard Berman announced his decision to deny wealthy financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein‘s bail request Thursday morning in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.
- Berman’s decision came after a bail hearing in which federal prosecutors and two of Epstein’s accusers argued that releasing Epstein on bail would endanger the public and allow for potential obstruction of justice due to his wealth and connections.
- Epstein’s defence argued that he could pay any amount toward bail and that his release was necessary so that they could construct his case.
- Epstein has pleaded not guilty on charges of sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors.
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US District Judge Richard Berman announced in court Thursday morning that he decided against wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein’s bail request. Epstein will remain in custody awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors.
Epstein, a convicted sex offender, has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Berman’s decision came after a bail hearing in which federal prosecutors argued that Epstein posed a flight risk as well as a public safety risk, and that there was a potential risk of obstruction of justice.
In his decision, Berman said that Epstein was a danger to himself and others and therefore should not be released. “I find that the government has established danger to others and to the community by clear and convincing evidence,” he said, noting that “I doubt that any bail package can overcome danger to the community.”
The judge also cited the testimony of two of Epstein’s accusers, Annie Farmer and Courtney Wild, who said they believed Epstein should remain in jail “for the safety of other girls.”
Epstein’s defence argued in turn that Epstein could pay any amount toward bail and that his release was necessary so that they could construct a defence for his upcoming trial. They also argued that Epstein could remain in his $US77 million Manhattan townhouse on electronic monitoring during the trial, with his private planes grounded.
Epstein entered the courtroom Thursday in a navy prison uniform and black glasses. As Berman presented his decision, which lasted for fewer than 30 minutes, Epstein remained expressionless. While Berman spoke, Epstein clasped his hands in front of his face, but appeared ambivalent.
None of Epstein’s accusers appeared in court Thursday, and Epstein appeared to briefly confer with his legal counsel before exiting the room immediately following Berman’s decision. He was not handcuffed.
In Epstein’s bail hearing on Monday, federal prosecutors said they found an expired passport issued by Austria in the 1980s. The passport listed Epstein’s photo, but a different name, and listed his country of residence as Saudi Arabia, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors also expressed that Epstein’s financial statement, which Berman unsealed after Monday’s hearing, was likely incomplete as it did not take into account the financier’s wealth in art and diamonds, among other potential assets.
Berman criticised the lack of evidence in the financial statement, and questioned Epstein’s defence as to whether they could know for sure that the convicted sex offender was a repeat offender past 2005 – the last known date of alleged sexual abuse in the federal indictment – or not.
The federal indictment accuses Epstein of abusing dozens of underage girls between at least the years of 2002 and 2005 in both his Palm Beach residence and his Manhattan residence. Epstein’s unsealed financial statement claims he is worth $US559 million.
Epstein previously signed a controversial plea agreement that has since spurred former Labour Secretary Alexander Acosta to resign, effective Friday. As a US attorney of Florida’s Southern District in 2008, Acosta signed the deal, which allowed Epstein to serve only 13 months of an 18-month sentence with a work release that meant he could reside in a private office for 12 hours a day, six days a week.
A lawyer representing some of Epstein’s accusers, including one who testified in his bail hearing Monday, has since accused Epstein of sexually abusing women during his work release while in custody. Dozens more women have also come forward to accuse Epstein of sexual assault.
- Read more:
- From Hershey’s bars to hand lotion, here’s what wealthy convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein purchased in commissary while serving time in Florida
- In Epstein bail hearing, federal prosecutors claimed that a 1980s passport with Saudi connections had Epstein’s photo but a different name
- Unsealed court documents reveal that financier Jeffrey Epstein is being charged with running a sex-trafficking ring involving girls as young as 14
- Here’s everything we know about wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein and his alleged sex-trafficking operation
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