NEW YORK — A federal judge on Thursday denied bail for Jeffrey Epstein, the financier facing sex-trafficking charges, rejecting his request to await trial under home detention at his Upper East Side mansion.
The judge, Richard M. Berman of U.S. District Court in Manhattan, said Epstein, who owns property in Paris and has a private plane, would be detained in jail until his trial on charges that he sexually abused and trafficked dozens of underage girls in the early 2000s.
Berman emphasized Epstein’s danger to the others, particularly his accusers and “prospective victims as well.” The judge cited what he called “compelling testimony” by two of the accusers — Annie Farmer and Courtney Wild — who said at a hearing on Monday that they feared for their safety and the safety of others if Epstein were to be released.
Epstein’s lawyers had proposed allowing him to post a substantial bond and remain in his mansion guarded around the clock by private security guards, whom he would pay. Prosecutors vigorously opposed that proposal, saying he was seeking “special treatment” and trying to build his own private jail — a “gilded cage.”
Berman said that Epstein’s proposed bail package was “irretrievably inadequate,” and that he would not entertain any other bail proposals from the financier’s legal team.
“I doubt that any bail package can overcome danger to the community,” the judge said.
Prosecutors had also argued that Epstein’s fortune, said to be more than $500 million, would make it possible for him to flee the country if he were not detained.
The judge agreed, pointing to Epstein’s “great wealth and his vast resources,” including private planes and a residence in Paris.
Ever since his July 6 arrest at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey after a flight from Paris, Epstein, 66, has been detained at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a highly secure jail in Manhattan that has housed accused terrorists, mobsters and even the Mexican cartel leader known as El Chapo.
A federal indictment charged that between 2002 and 2005, Epstein and his employees paid dozens of underage girls to engage in sex acts with him at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida.
The indictment also accused Epstein of using some of his victims to recruit additional girls for him to abuse. He paid his “victim-recruiters” hundreds of dollars for each girl they brought to him, prosecutors said.
He has pleaded not guilty and has vowed to fight the charges, his lawyers said. If convicted, he faces up to 45 years in prison.
In 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty to two state prostitution charges in Florida as part of a secret, lenient deal he negotiated with the United States attorney in Miami to avoid federal prosecution. He served 13 months in jail.
In seeking Epstein’s detention, prosecutors also sharply disputed his lawyers’ argument that for more than a decade he had lived a law-abiding life. They noted, for example, that he had tried to influence possible witnesses against him as recently as last year.
The prosecutors said Epstein had wired $350,000 to two people close to him who were potential witnesses just days after The Miami Herald revealed details last November about his deal to avoid federal prosecution in Florida.
On Monday, a prosecutor, Alexander Rossmiller, told the judge that investigators had also discovered a safe in Epstein’s mansion containing piles of cash, dozens of diamonds and a passport issued by a foreign country (later identified as Austria). The passport had his photo but a different name.
Epstein’s lawyers, writing to the judge on Tuesday, offered an explanation for the passport: They described Epstein as “an affluent member of the Jewish faith” and said he had acquired the passport in the 1980s when hijackings were prevalent, in connection with Middle East travel.
“The passport was for personal protection in the event of travel to dangerous areas, only to be presented to potential kidnappers, hijackers or terrorists should violent episodes occur,” they wrote.