12:56, July 11 34 0 theguardian.com

2019-07-11 12:56:04
Jeffrey Epstein asks to be released on bail while awaiting sex trafficking trial

Disgraced American financier Jeffrey Epstein has asked a federal judge to let him out of jail and allow him to remain under house arrest as he awaits trial on charges of sex trafficking underage girls.

In a filing in federal court in Manhattan on Thursday, Epstein’s lawyers argued that home confinement, along with electronic monitoring, surveillance and a bond secured by a mortgage on his $77m Manhattan mansion would be enough to ensure that he does not flee the country.

Prosecutors said at a court hearing on Monday that they will oppose Epstein’s release on bail, saying he poses “extraordinary risk of flight” because of his wealth, private planes and significant international ties.

Prosecutors say a trove of what seems to be nude pictures of underage girls was found in his mansion after his arrest on charges that he sexually exploited and abused dozens of underage girls from 2002 to 2005.

They are due to respond to Epstein’s motion by Friday evening. A bail hearing is set for Monday.

Epstein, 66, was arrested on Saturday evening at Teterboro airport in New Jersey, where he had returned on his private plane from Paris. He pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking and conspiracy.

According to an indictment, Epstein arranged for girls to perform nude “massages” and other sex acts, and paid some girls to recruit others, from at least 2002 to 2005. Prosecutors said he intentionally sought out girls under the age of 18.

The well-connected money manager was known for socializing with politicians and royalty, with friends who have included Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and, according to court papers, Prince Andrew. None of those people was mentioned in the indictment.

The Manhattan case comes more than a decade after allegations that Epstein sexually abused minors spurred local and federal criminal investigations and civil suits.

In 2008, Epstein and the Miami US attorney’s office, led by Alexander Acosta, now the US labor secretary, reached a deal that ended a federal investigation involving at least 40 teenage girls. Epstein pleaded guilty to state charges, served 13 months in jail and registered as a sex offender.

In February, the Department of Justice opened an inquiry. Acosta has defended his role in abandoning a more than 50-page indictment, saying in May: “This matter was appealed all the way up to the deputy attorney general’s office. And not because we weren’t doing enough, but because the contention was that we were too aggressive.”

On Monday, Epstein attorney Reid Weingarten said the allegations were “ancient stuff”, dealt with in prior proceedings. “To us,” he said, “this indictment is essentially a do-over.”

Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report