Two women who said they were abused by Jeffrey Epstein asked a federal judge not to release the wealthy financial manager before his trial on sex trafficking charges — after prosecutors revealed they’d found piles of cash, diamonds, and a fake foreign passport featuring Epstein’s photo inside his home.
Epstein appeared before a crowded courtroom for a bail hearing in New York on Monday wearing a navy jail uniform. The 66-year-old, known for his wealth and powerful friends, was earlier this month charged with running a sex trafficking ring of women and underage girls — more than 10 years after a previous investigation ended in a lenient plea deal.
Dozens of women have said they were abused by Epstein at his properties in New York, Florida, New Mexico, or internationally. On Monday, two told a judge they feared what would happen if he were released from jail.
“I was sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein starting at the age of 14,” said Courtney Wild, who’d traveled from Florida to attend the hearing. She asked Judge Richard Berman to not release Epstein “for the safety of any other girls.”
“It’s a public case, and he’s a scary person to have walking the streets,” Wild said.
Another woman, Annie Farmer, told the judge she was 16 when she “had the misfortune” of meeting Epstein in New York. She said he flew her to New Mexico and that he was “inappropriate” with her, but declined to go into further detail.
Farmer told the judge she wanted to “voice her support” for prosecutors’ request to deny bail to Epstein.
In addition to women who have for years been known to investigators as victims, Assistant US Attorney Alex Rossmiller said dozens of new “victims and witnesses” have come forward over the last week.
The case had “dramatically expanded” in size, becoming “significantly stronger and getting stronger every day,” Rossmiller said.
The prosecutor added Epstein posed an “extraordinary” flight risk due to his fortune.
That includes six homes — including a residence in France — and two private islands. Epstein estimated his own wealth to a banking institution at more than $500 million.
Rossmiller revealed that just hours earlier Monday morning, investigators opened a safe taken from Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse and found piles of cash, dozens of diamonds, a passport issued from a foreign country with a photo of him but with “a name that is not Jeffrey Epstein.”
The expired and apparently falsified passport, dated to the 1980s, listed his residence as Saudi Arabia, Rossmiller said.
Authorities also found “many, many, many photographs” of nude and partially nude women and “girls who appear to be young,” said Rossmiller. At least one person in the photographs had identified herself as a victim of Epstein’s.
“His dangerousness is clear from his willingness to tamper with victims and witnesses,” said Rossmiller, noting that two people in Florida had filed police reports accusing Epstein or associates of deliberately targeting and harassing them because of their involvement in cases against him.
He also said that Epstein paid two associates large amounts of cash shortly after the release of a Miami Herald investigation detailing the accusations of sexual abuse and trafficking from dozens of women and girls. One of Epstein’s associates received $100,000, the other $250,000, in late 2018. Their names were not revealed to the court.
Epstein’s lawyer Martin Weinberg said even if bail were to be set at $100 million, Epstein would accept it because he wants to fight the charges against him.
Weinberg said his client was “not a predator” and had “disciplined himself” after a 2008 plea deal that found him guilty of soliciting prostitution from a minor.
Since then, Epstein has committed no crimes, his attorney said. Epstein wasn’t going to “abandon his 14 years of self-discipline,” Weinberg said.
The judge noted that recent research actually showed an increase in recidivism in sex offenders 15 years after an offense.
At another point, Epstein’s lawyer said his client was “not a case of an out-of-control rapist.”
“The question is: How do you know that?” Judge Berman asked in response.
In exchange for release until his trial begins, Epstein is offering to ground his private plane, pay for 24/7 security guards, and have a live-in monitor. Instead of jail, he would be confined to his Upper East Side townhouse, which is worth $77 million.
The judge is expected to announce a decision on whether Epstein will be granted bail at a hearing Thursday.