Federal Judge Denies Jeffrey Epstein Bail During Wait For Sex Trafficking Trial

Jul 18, 2019
Originally published on July 18, 2019 5:52 pm
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A federal judge in New York has denied a bail request by sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who's awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. Defense lawyers had asked that Epstein live under house arrest in his Manhattan townhouse, and he had offered tens of millions of dollars in bond. But as NPR's Quil Lawrence reports, that did not sway the judge.

QUIL LAWRENCE, BYLINE: Judge Richard Berman was expected to rule on Epstein's bail request on Monday. But after four extra days considering arguments from both sides, his decision was not a surprise. In Monday's hearing, he unexpectedly invited two of Epstein's alleged victims to repeat their claims that he abused them while they were teenagers. Today, the judge cited what he called that compelling testimony in deciding that Jeffrey Epstein was still dangerous.

Sigrid McCawley, a lawyer for those young women, spoke outside the court.

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SIGRID MCCAWLEY: Only by taking away the freedom of Jeffrey Epstein can we restore the freedom of these victims. They have been living in fear and intimidation since the day they were abused by him, and now he is in jail.

LAWRENCE: The defense had requested that Epstein be allowed to self-finance a comfortable stay in his Upper East Side mansion, wearing an ankle bracelet and even paying for a private security force to guard him. But Judge Berman has ruled in the past that a deal like that would unfairly favor the extremely wealthy. The prosecution called it a gilded cage.

The defense had argued that since his plea deal to soliciting prostitution in Florida, Epstein has, quote, "a spotless 14-year record of walking the straight and narrow." They noted that he's registered as a sex offender. Again, the judge sided with the prosecution, citing a collection of what law enforcement officials say may be child pornography seized at Epstein's home last week. Judge Berman today said, in that same raid, officials found a safe containing a fake passport and $70,000 in cash, along with diamonds.

Stan Pottinger, another attorney representing alleged victims, said that unlike Epstein's plea deal in Florida a decade ago, this time, victims should feel confident to talk to police.

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STAN POTTINGER: We urge those who may still be wondering, should I come forward? Should I be a part of this process? Yes, you should. You can trust the process. You should come forward and help see that justice is done.

LAWRENCE: The prosecution says other victims have come forward, but so far, Epstein is only charged with offenses between 2002 and 2005. His defense team calls the entire case, quote, "dated allegations for which Mr. Epstein has already been punished," with the 13 months he served in the Palm Beach County jail 11 years ago.

Quil Lawrence, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.