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Jeffrey Epstein will be locked up behind bars without bail until his sex trafficking trial begins, a Manhattan federal judge ruled Thursday.
Judge Richard Berman determined the 66-year-old Epstein — a registered sex offender charged with trafficking and conspiracy — was a danger to the community and a flight risk. Epstein has pleaded not guilty to charges of human trafficking and conspiracy and has been held in a Manhattan jail since his July 6 arrest at a New Jersey airport.
Epstein is accused of abusing dozens of underage girls at his estates in Manhattan and Palm Beach from 2002 to 2005, according to an indictment unsealed last week. Epstein’s lawyers had argued the wealthy financier should be able to return home until his trial, but prosecutors argued he posed a significant flight right, due to his piles of cash and diamonds, fake passport, private jet, and multiple residences.
The last time Epstein faced similar allegations, in 2008, he received a generous plea deal that allowed him to leave jail to work six days a week. During that release, he also allegedly abused a woman, who came forward to Brad Edwards, a lawyer representing several of Epstein’s other accusers.
Federal investigators also discovered a trove of nude photos at the Upper East Side Manhattan townhouse where Epstein hoped to return. And attorneys alleged in a court filing last week that Epstein paid off possible co-conspirators to encourage them not to provide testimony against him, after the Miami Herald detailed the allegations against him at length in November.
Epstein allegedly groomed vulnerable young girls into showing up at his estates to provide him with “massages” as part of an escalating scheme that sometimes ended in sexual assault. He also allegedly demanded his employees schedule appointments with his victims — some as young as 14 — or even have them waiting for him after he stepped off his private jet in Palm Beach.
Epstein’s next court hearing is scheduled for July 31.
Cover image: United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman speaks during a news conference, in New York, Monday, July 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)