Jeffrey Epstein appeals no-bail decision in child sex-trafficking case
Kevin McCoy, USA TODAY Published 12:12 p.m. ET July 23, 2019 | Updated 12:33 p.m. ET July 23, 2019
NEW YORK Jeffrey Epstein has signaled plans to appeal the no-bail decision that has left the child sex-trafficking defendant behind bars while awaiting trial.
The wealthy financier late Monday filed a notice of appeal aimed at overturning Manhattan U.S. District Judge Richard Berman's ruling last week that ordered Epstein to remain in detention on grounds that he poses a danger to the community and is a flight risk.
Filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the notice is a prelude to arguments Epstein's legal team is expected to provide as a legal rationale for securing his release pending trial.
The 66-year-old defendant is a onetime friend of former President Bill Clinton, a pre-presidency Donald Trump, Britain's Prince Andrew and other widely known public figures.
A criminal indictment unsealed this month charged Epstein with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy for abusing dozens of young and underage girls from 2002 to 2005 in New York City and Palm Beach, Florida.
Epstein pleaded not guilty. He subsequently offered to self-fund his detention in his Manhattan mansion, where he sought to remain under 24-hour armed guard, global positioning security and other safeguards that his lawyers said would ensure public safety and guarantee his appearance at court hearings.
The proposal would have mortgaged the mansion which has an estimated value as high as $77 million and would have laced a similar financial hold on an Epstein-controlled private jet.
However, Berman's July 18 ruling called the bail proposal "irretrievably inadequate" and cited the safety of the community, particularly Epstein's victims, as the court's primary concern.
"I don't think any bail package overcomes the danger to others," Berman said from the bench before his ruling was posted in the Epstein case docket.
The judge said he focused on court declarations last week by Annie Farmer and Courtney Wild, young women who said they had been victimized by Epstein and feared what might happen if he were granted bail.
Rejecting defense arguments that Epstein had rehabilitated himself since his 2008 Florida plea bargain deal to sex-related charges involving young girls, Berman also said he was "concerned for new victims."
"Mr. Epstein's alleged excessive attraction to sexual conduct with or in the presence of minor girls which is said to include his soliciting and receiving massages from young girls and young women perhaps as many as four times a day appears likely to be uncontrollable," Berman wrote in the ruling.
"Accordingly, Mr. Epstein's past sexual conduct is not likely to have abated or been successfully suppressed by fierce determination, as his defense counsel suggests," the ruling said.
Berman's decision also noted that federal investigators found a "substantial collection of photographic trophies of his victims and other young females" in Epstein's Manhattan mansion.
Berman also agreed with federal prosecutors that Epstein poses a flight risk. He said the assets federal investigators found in a safe in the financier's Manhattan mansion more than $71,000 in cash, 48 diamonds, and an expired Austrian passport with a fake name and Epstein's photo on it gave Epstein ample means to flee.
The judge also cited the lack of independent verification for the more than $500 million in cash, stocks, bonds and other assets that Epstein's lawyers presented to the court as the financier's net worth.
In their thus-far unsuccessful arguments for bail, Epstein's lawyers stressed that the financier had not been charged with any new crimes between the Florida guilty plea and the New York indictment.
The lawyers also said Epstein, who has appeared at recent court hearings in a dark-blue jail smock and pants, has every intention of defending himself at trial.