A federal judge in Manhattan denied billionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s bail request on Thursday, ruling that he must remain behind bars until his sex-trafficking trial begins.
U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman denied the $77 million bail package proposed by Epstein’s attorneys on the grounds that prosecutors had presented “clear and convincing evidence” that Epstein is a flight risk.
Epstein, 66, is facing 45 years in prison on charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy. He was arrested earlier this month at a New Jersey airport. He stands accused of molesting dozens of teenage girls at his homes in New York and New Jersey from 2002 to 2005. He has pled not guilty.
On Wednesday, prosecutors presented evidence that Epstein used a foreign passport, which carried a fake name and listed his address in Saudi Arabia, to travel internationally in the 1980s. The passport was found in a safe in Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse along with $70,000 in cash and 48 loose diamonds, according to prosecutors.
Two women who claim Epstein abused them as teenagers testified Monday and urged the judge to remand Epstein, saying that they wouldn’t feel safe if they knew he was free.
The charges come more than a decade after Epstein entered into a non-prosecution deal that allowed him to serve just 13 months in jail for abusing multiple teenage girls. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta was forced to resign last week after new revelations about his role in offering the deal as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.), who has been calling for the Department of Justice to investigate the lenient non-prosecution deal since last year, praised the judge’s decision in a Thursday statement.
“This wasn’t a close call: this molester stole the innocence of many little girls and being a billionaire isn’t a get out of jail card,” he said.