Accused pedophile predator Jeffrey Epstein will await his sex trafficking trial in a prison cell, rather than from the comfort of his Upper East Side mansion. At a hearing in Manhattan federal court on Thursday, Judge Richard Berman denied the defendant's bail request, ruling that "the government has established danger to others and to the community by clear and convincing evidence."
Earlier this week, prosecutors argued that Epstein—who stands accused of luring dozens of underage girls into a sex ring between at least 2002 and 2005, and who has pleaded not guilty to the charges—posed a formidable flight risk, due to his estimated $500 million fortune and the plethora of escape routes at his disposal. Epstein owns between 15 and 37 vehicles, a private jet, plus homes in Manhattan, Palm Beach, New Mexico, and Paris, in addition to a private island ("Pedophile Island") near St. Thomas. Searching the $77 million townhouse where Epstein's lawyers wanted him held, investigators found "piles of cash," 48 loose diamonds, and an expired international passport (with Epstein's photo on it, but not his name) locked in a safe.
All of that, combined with the possible thousands of nude images of minors discovered in the house, and testimony from two of Epstein's alleged victims, reportedly made the defense team's proposed bail package seem "inadequate," as Berman very mildly put it. The financier's lawyers had asked for supervised home confinement, during which Epstein would have to wear an ankle monitor and coexist with guards and a "trustee" reporting to the federal government. For this privilege, they offered to hand over his townhouse and jet. The defense argued that communicating with their client while he sat in solitary at Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center proved too tall an order in such an "enormously challenging case."
Yet Epstein's alleged track record is damning. The charges he faces now are effectively duplicates of those he faced in the early aughts, when Florida authorities began building a case against him. They believed that Epstein and his associates enlisted young girls to give him massages at his Palm Beach home. Often, Epstein would reportedly escalate these encounters to physical abuse—including, but not limited to, rape.
Further, investigators believed that Epstein contracted some of these women to recruit even more minors into his "sexual pyramid scheme." Thanks to an extremely soft plea deal, though, Epstein escaped trial with just over a year in jail, plus a work release—during which Brad Edwards, a lawyer for some of Epstein's victims, alleges the convicted sex offender continued to abuse girls.
Even as a registered sex offender in NYC, Epstein never checked in with police as a judge ordered him to, and the NYPD reportedly did nothing about it. The businessman's lax interpretations of his legal requirements, alongside the prosecution's contention that Epstein bribed victims and intimidated attorneys while wrangling his previous plea deal (and maybe also when the allegations came back under scrutiny last year), fails to inspire confidence.
"I doubt that any bail package can overcome danger to the community," Berman said Thursday.
Epstein will be held at the MCC until trial. If convicted, he faces up to 45 years in prison—a term that's tantamount to a life sentence.