The entrance to Jeffrey Epstein’s NYC townhouse, where his defense lawyers want him to await trial. (JASON SZENES/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
A federal judge will decide the question of Jeffrey Epstein’s continued detention on Thursday, he announced at a bail hearing on Monday. In the interim, the accused pedophile predator will remain in Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center, where he is currently locked up three cells down from El Chapo, rather than return to his gratuitously luxurious townhouse.
According to Courthouse News reporter Adam Klasfeld, it’s “typical” to see a delay between a bail hearing and a ruling, and Judge Richard Berman has previously refused at least one hyper-wealthy, high-profile offender the request to await trial from his very fancy home. Berman also said he would allow some of Epstein’s alleged victims—in court on Monday—to speak at Thursday’s hearing, “if they wish to be heard,” and indicated that he may unseal Epstein’s financial information, unless prosecutors or the defense team convince him it’s not fit for public consumption.
Making an argument for Epstein’s sustained detention, prosecutor Alex Rossmiller pointed to the alleged sex trafficker’s apparent attempts at “witness tampering,” like for example the time in the mid-aughts he reportedly swung a widely criticized plea deal by intimidating prosecutors, while also bullying and bribing his victims into silence. Prosecutors have also learned that Epstein paid $350,000 to possible co-conspirators in the wake of the Miami Herald reports that revived scrutiny of decades-old rumors around Epstein. That, plus his estimated $500 million fortune, his suite of possible escape vehicles, and his abundance of homes inside and outside the United States, make him an especially risky flight risk in prosecutors’ eyes.
The Herald’s pieces appear to have catalyzed the current case against the financier, whom prosecutors have accused of enlisting “dozens” of minors in a pyramid scheme-like sex ring between at least 2002 and 2005. Epstein allegedly sent out girls and young women to bring him more minors, typically those who were especially “vulnerable” in terms of their home lives and financial situations. Luring girls as young as 14 to his various properties, he reportedly paid them hundreds of dollars in cash to give him “massages,” which typically involved him touching himself and/or the teens in wildly inappropriate ways. On several occasions, the victims—many of them now women in their late 20s and early 30s—have said Epstein raped them. Epstein has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy charges the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York’s office filed last week.
Since Epstein’s arrest last Saturday—and since the FBI and U.S. Attorney Office for the Southern District of New York asked anyone else who might have been abused, or witnessed abuse, by Epstein to get in touch—at least 15 women have reached out to attorneys representing his other victims. On Monday, Rossmiller told Berman that the prosecution’s case is “already significantly stronger and getting stronger every single day” than it was a week ago. “If he chooses to be tried before a jury of his peers,” Rossmiller reportedly added, “we are confident he will be convicted.”
The defense team, meanwhile, has asked that he be held at the Upper East Side mansion that served as a home base for Epstein’s alleged crimes. (The same mansion where FBI agents found “piles of cash,” multiple diamonds, and an expired international passport bearing Epstein’s photo but not his name, all squirreled away in a safe.) They have offered a package that would require Epstein to wear an ankle monitor, and to exist under the surveillance of security cameras, armed guards, and the supervision of an on-site “trustee” reporting to the government. They also proposed that Epstein would forfeit his $77 million townhouse and private jet as collateral.
According to Klasfeld, the defense team argued Monday that preparing their case with Epstein in solitary confinement would be too difficult. “We need him released, judge,” one of his attorneys reportedly said. “This is an enormously challenging case for defense counsel.”
In response, Berman nodded to Rikers Island, where many inmates remain imprisoned because they can’t pay bail. “Everybody has the right to consult with counsel,” he said, according to Klasfeld. “If that’s the standard, what are we going to tell all those people [who] can’t make a $500 or $1,000 bail?”
Also on Monday, David Boies—attorney for some of Epstein’s alleged victims—asked that they be given “the last word.”
“I was 16-years-old when I had the misfortune to meet” Epstein, Annie Farmer reportedly said. Farmer would appear to be the younger sister of Maria Farmer, and the girl Epstein reportedly flew to his New Mexico ranch and assaulted.
“He was inappropriate with me and I would prefer not to go into the details about labeling that at this time,” she continued, adding that “his wealth, his privilege and the notoriety of the case would make it… more difficult,” presumably for the women that prosecutors believe Epstein abused, if he is released on bail. We will find out whether or not Berman agrees on Thursday.