A judge denied Jeffrey Epstein’s bail request on Thursday, July 18, deciding instead that the billionaire financier should remain in custody until he's tried on sex trafficking charges.
U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman pointed to danger as being at “the heart of this decision, that is to say, dealing with danger to others and to the community,” according to the Associated Press.
Epstein, 66, was accused earlier this month of sexually assaulting dozens of underage girls in New York and Florida over the course of many years. He has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges, and has been jailed since his July 6 arrest.
Epstein’s legal team argued that he be allowed to stay under house arrest at his Manhattan home until his trial, according to the AP report. He was reportedly willing to offer up $559 million as collateral, but the judge ultimately did not go for it, calling the proposed terms “irretrievably inadequate” on Thursday, CNN reports.
“I doubt that any bail package can overcome danger to the community,” Berman said, according to the Associated Press. He went on to suggest that Epstein’s freedom would pose a danger to “the minor victims in this case and prospective victims as well.”
Prosecutors previously asserted that Epstein — who reportedly has millions of dollars at his disposal and owns multiple homes, including one in France — presented an “extreme” flight risk, according to CNN.
During a July 6 raid on Epstein’s home, investigators discovered inappropriate photos of what could be minor girls, tens of thousands of dollars in cash, and dozens of diamonds, NBC News reports. Also discovered in a locked safe was a foreign passport bearing Epstein’s photo attached to a different name; prosecutors claimed that stamps on it prove that it had been used to travel to a number of different countries in the 1980s, but Epstein's lawyers claimed that he obtained the passport for “protection,” and the stamps on it must have been accumulated by a previous owner, according to the outlet.
“Some Jewish-Americans were formally advised at the time to carry identification bearing a non-Jewish name when traveling internationally in case of hijacking,” Epstein’s lawyers said.
Aside from pointing to the nature of the charges Epstein is currently facing and the likelihood that he could flee, prosecutors also brought up allegations that Epstein engaged in intimidation tactics and paid off two possible witnesses, a move that Epstein’s lawyers claimed could have been an “act of generosity,” according to CNN.
Berman ultimately agreed that Epstein should not be released, saying Thursday that prosecutors had presented “clear and convincing evidence” supporting that point, according to NBC News.
Berman also said on Thursday that “compelling testimony” from two of Epstein’s alleged victims, Annie Farmer and Courtney Wild, played a role in his final decision, according to the Associated Press.
“He’s a scary person to have walking the streets,” Wild said during a hearing on Monday.
Wild has said that Epstein sexually abused her in Florida when she was 14 years old, according to the Associated Press. Farmer said that she was 16 when she first met Epstein in New York, according to CNN. They are two of numerous women who have come forward with allegations that Epstein sexually assaulted them when they were minors.
Epstein did not show any reaction on Thursday after hearing that he will remain behind bars, but his lawyer, Martin Weinberg, told NBC after the hearing that pursuing an appeal is an option.
“We haven’t read the court’s opinion, we haven’t reviewed it. When we do, we will seriously contemplate an appeal,” he said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Rossmiller said on Monday that more and more potential victims are coming forward and that their case against Epstein is “getting stronger every single day,” according to the Associated Press.
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