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A federal judge on Thursday denied bail for Jeffrey Epstein, the financier facing sex-trafficking charges in Manhattan, rejecting his request to await trial under home detention at his Upper East Side mansion.
The judge, Richard M. Berman of Federal District Court, said Mr. Epstein’s “past sexual conduct is not likely to have abated,” and he was concerned that if Mr. Epstein were released, he would continue to abuse teenage girls.
“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,” Judge Berman wrote in a bail decision.
The judge said he had taken into account the statements of two of Mr. Epstein’s accusers — Annie Farmer and Courtney Wild — who he said had “movingly testified” in a hearing earlier in the week that they feared for their safety and the safety of others if Mr. Epstein were to be released.
A federal indictment has charged that between 2002 and 2005, Mr. Epstein and his employees paid dozens of underage girls to engage in sex acts with him at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Fla.
The indictment also accused Mr. Epstein of using some of his victims to recruit additional girls, paying his “victim-recruiters” hundreds of dollars for each girl they brought to him.
Ever since his July 6 arrest at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey after a flight from Paris, Mr. Epstein, 66, has been detained at the highly secure Metropolitan Correctional Center. His lawyers had proposed allowing him to post a substantial bond and remain in his mansion guarded by 24-hour security guards, at his expense.
Prosecutors vigorously opposed that proposal, saying Mr. Epstein was seeking “special treatment” and trying to build his own private jail — a “gilded cage.”
In a court hearing earlier Thursday, Judge Berman announced he was denying Mr. Epstein’s request, saying his proposed bail package was “irretrievably inadequate.”
“I doubt that any bail package can overcome danger to the community,” the judge said in court.
In his written opinion, the judge noted, “The crimes Mr. Epstein has been charged with are among the most heinous in the law principally, in the court’s view, because they involve minor girls.”
One of Mr. Epstein’s lawyers, Marc Fernich, said of the judge’s ruling, “We expect to appeal and look forward to fighting the case.”
The judge also found that Mr. Epstein was a flight risk, citing his “vast wealth” — prosecutors said they believe he is worth more than $500 million — including private planes and residences in Paris and the Caribbean.
The judge pointed to a safe the authorities said they found in Mr. Epstein’s mansion that contained piles of cash, dozens of diamonds and an expired passport issued by a foreign country (later identified as Austria). The passport had Mr. Epstein’s photo but a different name.
Mr. Epstein’s lawyers, writing to the judge on Tuesday, offered an explanation for the passport: They described Mr. 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.
Mr. Epstein has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he faces up to 45 years in prison.
In 2008, Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty to two state prostitution charges in Florida as part of a secret, lenient deal he had negotiated with the United States attorney in Miami to avoid federal prosecution. He served 13 months in jail, but was allowed to leave for 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, to work.
In seeking Mr. Epstein’s detention, prosecutors had sharply disputed an argument by his lawyers that for more than a decade he had lived a law-abiding life. The government noted, for example, that Mr. Epstein tried to influence possible witnesses as recently as last year.
The prosecutors said Mr. Epstein had wired $350,000 to two people close to him days after the Miami Herald revealed details in November about his deal to avoid federal prosecution in Florida.
Judge Berman, in his opinion, wrote that the payments also were a basis for denying Mr. Epstein bail.
In court earlier in the day, as Judge Berman announced how he would rule, Mr. Epstein, seated at the defense table, stared ahead without apparent emotion.
Benjamin Weiser is a reporter covering the Manhattan federal courts. He has long covered criminal justice, both as a beat and investigative reporter. Before joining The Times in 1997, he worked at The Washington Post. @BenWeiserNYT
Ali Watkins is a reporter on the Metro Desk, covering courts and social services. Previously, she covered national security in Washington for The Times, BuzzFeed and McClatchy Newspapers. @AliWatkins