Wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein pleaded not guilty Monday and was ordered held without bail for at least another week pending a detention hearing on charges of sex trafficking dozens of underage girls more than a decade ago.
Looking haggard with his hair mussed, the 66-year-year-old Epstein entered his plea in Manhattan federal court, where he was clad in a blue jumpsuit, a brown undershirt and bright orange sneakers.
He will be detained in jail until at least the detention hearing on July 15, where prosecutors are expected to continue their argument that Epstein should be detained without bail pending trial.
Epstein, who had been friends with President Donald Trump and ex-President Bill Clinton, was arrested Saturday after flying on a private plane from France to a New York-area airport.
In a tweet on Monday, Clinton's spokesperson Angel Urena said the former president "knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those in which he has been recently charged in New York."
Urena said Clinton took four trips with Epstein in 2002 and 2003, which "included stops in connection with the work of the Clinton Foundation," and met with Epstein two other times in and around 2002. He added that Clinton has not spoken to Epstein in "well over a decade."
Federal agents allegedly found in a locked safe in his Manhattan mansion "a vast trove of lewd photographs" of young-looking women or girls in his Manhattan mansion, as well as compact discs with hand-written labels such as " 'Young [Name] + [Name],' 'Misc nudes 1,' and 'Girl pics nudes,' " according to prosecutors.
One of Epstein's accusers, Sarah Ransome, said in a statement issued by her lawyers, "The news of my abuser's arrest today is a step in the right direction to finally hold Epstein accountable for his crimes and restores my faith that money and power cannot triumph over justice."
Another accuser, Virginia Giuffre: said "I can say, without hesitation, that I am deeply pleased that federal prosecutors in New York have arrested Jeffrey Epstein and are on the case in a serious way. It is time for Jeffrey Epstein and those who participated and enabled his sex crimes to be brought to true justice."
Prosecutor Alex Rossmiller told Judge Henry Pitman on Monday, arguing that Epstein should not be released on bail, said he "is extraordinarily wealthy, mobile and unattached to the Southern District of New York."
The prosecutor noted that Epstein's assets include private jets, numerous residences and a private island.
"He is a man of nearly infinite means your honor," said Rossmiller, whose memo had called Epstein an "extreme flight risk," and an "acute danger" to the public if he is freed on bail.
Rossmiller also told the judge that "we've been contacted by several additional" people "who are interested in speaking with the government" about the claims against Epstein.
Epstein's lawyer, Reid Weingarten, said that Epstein's alleged "risk of flight is dramatically overstated."
Weingarten proposed that Epstein being released on bail of a large dollar amount, with an electronic monitoring device, and with the condition that he waive his right to fight extradition from another jurisdiction.
The defense lawyer asked for, and received, an adjournment so that he could flesh out the bail proposal.
Weingarten also suggested that Epstein cannot be charged for the crimes outlined in the indictment because he had signed, in 2008, a nonprosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami in connection with the same type of conduct and same time frame as detailed in the new case.
At that time, the top prosecutor in that Florida office was Alex Acosta, who currently is the U.S. Labor secretary.
Weingarten said that the 2008 deal was "approved all the way up" to the Justice Department headquarters in Washington, D.C.
"And it sure seemed at the time it was a global agreement," Weingarten said.
"This indictment is essentially a do-over, this is old stuff, this is ancient stuff ... This is essentially a re-do and that's how it feels to us."
This case "should chill the blood of every defense attorney that makes a deal with the United States," Weingarten said.
But Geoffrey Berman, the head of the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan, told reporters Monday that the deal Epstein signed with Acosta's office is explicitly only binding on prosecutors in the Southern District of Florida, not on Berman's office.
And Rossmiller, referring to Weingarten, said in court, "What he's not saying is that it's beyond the statute of limitations, because it's not."
In the current case, Epstein is charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. He faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted of the charges.
The indictment unsealed earlier Monday accuses Epstein of sexually exploiting "dozens" of "minor girls" between 2002 and 2005 in New York and Florida, with some of the girls being just age 14.
The indictment says Epstein gave the girls "hundreds of dollars in cash" after they engaged in sex acts with him at his Big Apple mansion or at his Palm Beach, Florida, estate.
The girls originally were told they would be giving him "massages," according to the indictment.
"In order to maintain and increase his supply of victims, Epstein also paid certain of his victims to recruit additional girls to be similarly abused by Epstein," the indictment said.
"In this way, Epstein created a vast network of underage victims for him to sexually exploit," it said.
Epstein allegedly conspired with employees, associates and others "who facilitated his conduct by, among other things, contacting victims and scheduling their sexual encounters with Epstein."
"Certain recruiters brought dozens of additional minor girls to the New York [r]esidence to give massages to and engage in sex acts with Jeffrey Epstein," the indictment charges.
And that document claims that "Epstein intentionally sought out minors and knew that many of his victims were in fact under the age of 18, including because, in some instances, minor victims expressly told him their age."