Jeffrey Epstein: Billionaire paedophile appeals judge’s decision to deny him bail

Disgraced financier and former friend of Trump's offer of £450m bail package to prosecutors was rejected for him presenting too much risk to public

Ewan Somerville
Tuesday 23 July 2019 17:38 BST
NBC coverage from 1992 shows Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein discussing women at Mar-a-Lago party

Billionaire peadophile Jeffrey Epstein has appealed a federal judge's decision to keep him behind bars while he awaits trial on sex trafficking charges.

An appeal application made public this week suggests he will ask the court of appeal to overturn the judge's decision to remand him in custody.

The former friend of Donald Trump and Prince Andrew is facing charges he exploited dozens of underage girls in New York and Florida in the early 2000s.

Prosecutors say the case against him "getting stronger every single day" as more women come forward and speak out about the alleged abuse the financiers subjected them to as minors.

Judge Richard Berman concluded that Epstein is a danger to the community and a flight risk, despite his defence team offering a bail package of £447m to prosecutors if he breached house arrest at his £62m Manhattan mansion.

In denying bail, US District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan expressed concern that Epstein's "past sexual conduct is not likely to have abated," and that there might be "new victims" if he were released.

Courtney Wild, one of his accusers, pleaded with the Judge Berman to keep him behind bars after alleging she was sexually abused by Epstein as a 14 year-old.

“He’s a scary person to have walking the streets,” she said during a hearing earlier this week.

Epstein has pleaded not guilty.

The office of US Attorney Geoffrey Berman in Manhattan, which is prosecuting Epstein, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Among the reasons prosecutors deemed Epstein a significant flight risk was the abundance of cash and jewels found in a safe during a raid by police at his New York property.

Federal agents said they had found a fortune of $70,000 in cash alongside 48 loose diamonds, including some more than 2 carats, and a diamond ring.

They also said they uncovered “nude photographs of what appeared to be underage girls” during the search of his home.

Investigators also found a foreign passport with a photograph of Epstein that had been used in four countries - but it was registered under a different name.

Epstein has been denied bail while he waits for his sex trafficking trial to come to court (Reuters)

Addressing the finding, Mr Epstein's lawyers argued that he had been handed the passport already used by a friend, out of worry that “some Jewish-Americans were informally advised at the time to carry identification bearing a non-Jewish name when travelling internationally in case of hijacking.”

Speaking for the prosecution at the bail hearing, first assistant US attorney Alison Moe said: “The government is currently unaware of whether the defendant maintains similar stashes of cash and/or jewels at his multiple properties. Such ready cash and loose diamonds are consistent with the capability to leave the jurisdiction at a moment’s notice.”

She added that the passport finding is proof that, whether he used or not, Epstein was knowledgable in how to forge travel documents and therefore could flee the US, bringing delays to criminal proceedings and risking collapsing the current case.

Prosecutors also say that Epstein was at risk of trying to gag witnesses after it was revealed he had paid $350,000 in total to two people, including a former employee, in the last year.

It was also reported that he managed to avoid federal prosecution in 2008 through a plea deal, prompting the Trump administration's labour secretary Alexander Acosta to resign after coming under fresh fire for presiding over the arrangement during his term as US attorney in Miami.

Trump's labour secretary says 'no regrets' over handing of Jeffrey Epstein case as new alleged child victim comes forward

Epstein's lawyers contest that the federal government is backtracking on the decade-old plea arrangement, which saw him plea guilty at the time to soliciting a minor for prostitution charges in 2008.

The ongoing allegations of Epstein's behaviour have proven embarassing for Trump administration, after video footage surfaced showing the president dancing jovially and ogling women with the financier at a party, appearing to lean over at one point and say to him: "Look at her back there - she's hot".

While Trump insists he has not spoken to him for 15 years and dislikes him, a 2002 profile of Epstein in New York magazine suggests the pair were once far closer.

The feature quotes Trump as saying: “I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”

Agencies contributed to this report

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