Jeffrey Epstein's lawyers propose up to $77 million bail package in child sex traffic case

Key Points
  • Defense lawyers for accused child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein file a proposed bail package worth up to $77 million for the wealthy financier, who remains detained in a New York federal jail.
  • The filing also suggests the crimes he is charged with are "akin to consumer or purchaser behavior" and thus he should not be prosecuted under the sex trafficking statute.
  • Epstein is accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14, who traveled to his mansions on New York's Upper East Side and in Palm Beach, Florida.
  • He is a former friend of presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton.
A protest group called "Hot Mess" hold up signs of Jeffrey Epstein in front of the Federal courthouse on July 8, 2019 in New York City.
Stephanie Keith | Getty Images

Defense lawyers for Jeffrey Epstein on Thursday filed a recommended bail package worth up to $77 million for the wealthy financier, who remains in the New York federal jail where prosecutors are asking a judge to keep him pending trial on child sex trafficking charges.

The filing, which argues that Epstein is "entitled" to bail, also suggests that the crimes he is charged with are "akin to consumer or purchaser behavior" and that he thus should not be prosecuted under the sex trafficking statute.

Lawyers are asking for the 66-year-old registered sex offender to be released into home detention in his Manhattan mansion on a "substantial personal recognizance bond" in the amount set by a judge.

The judge could set that amount "after reviewing additional information" about Epstein's finances, which Epstein would file under seal.

A mortgage on the mansion would secure the bail, and he would be monitored by an electronic tracking device, under the proposal. Lawyers noted that the mansion is "valued at roughly $77 million."

Under the proposal, a "Trustee or Trustees" would be appointed to live in Epstein's Upper East Side townhouse with him "and report any violation" to Pretrial Services or the judge in the case.

"Mr. Epstein's brother Mark will serve as a co-surety of the bond, which shall be further secured by a mortgage on Mark's home in West Palm Beach, Florida. Mr. Epstein's friend David Mitchell will also serve as a co-surety and pledge his investment interests in two properties to secure the bond," the filing said.

"Mr. Epstein's jet can be pledged as further collateral," the filing said, adding that Epstein would "deregister or otherwise ground his private jet."

Epstein, as part of his proposed bail, would agree not to seek any new passport and would consent to extradition from any country.

"No person shall enter the [Manhattan] residence, other than Mr. Epstein and his attorneys, without prior approval from Pretrial Services and/or the Court," the lawyers suggested.

The filing came three days after Epstein, 66, was charged with two sex trafficking counts in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Epstein is a former friend of presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, as well as of Britain's Prince Andrew.

Epstein is due to appear in court on Monday for a detention hearing, where a judge will consider his bail request. Until then, he will remain locked up.

Prosecutors, who want Epstein detained without bail pending trial, are scheduled to respond to the defense's bail request proposal on Friday.

Prosecutors already have told a judge that Epstein is a flight risk because of his wealth and have said that if he is released he would present a "danger" to the public.

But in their filing Thursday, Epstein's lawyers said "his conduct over the past 14 years proves that he poses no risk of flight or threat to the safety of the community."

Even if a judge has concerns about that, the lawyers said, "there clearly exist a combination of conditions that would be sufficient to assure his presence as required and/or the safety of the community, including but not limited to some or all of the conditions proposed supra, or any other conditions the Court deems necessary and appropriate."

Epstein is accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14 years old, who traveled to his mansions on New York's Upper East Side and in Palm Beach, Florida.

The indictment says the abuse occurred from 2002 through 2005 and typically involved Epstein engaging in sex acts with the girls after asking them to give him massages.

Prosecutors say that some Epstein employees, associates and others "facilitated his conduct by, among other things, contacting victims and scheduling their sexual encounters with Epstein."

In their bail application on Thursday, Epstein's lawyers wrote that "the allegations outlined within the indictment are just that — allegations — and the defendant anticipates substantial factual and legal challenges to the government case."

His lawyers said, "Epstein has potent legal defense to prosecution" under the sex trafficking statute, which they said Congress passed to combat a "modern form of slavery."

"There are no allegations in the indictment that Mr. Epstein trafficked anybody for commercial profit; that he forced, coerced, defrauded, or enslaved anybody; or that he engaged in any of the other paradigmatic sex trafficking activity that [the federal statute] aims to eradicate," lawyers wrote.

"Here, the principal conduct underlying the indictment is Mr. Epstein's payment of money for massages that purportedly escalated to alleged sex acts. Mr. Epstein's conduct, however, is akin to consumer or purchaser behavior and should be outside the ambit of" the sex trafficking statute, lawyers wrote.

His lawyers also said, "No one seeks to minimize the gravity of the alleged conduct, but it is clear that the conduct falls within the heartland of classic state or local sex offenses — and at or outside the margins of federal criminal law."

Labor Secretary Acosta defends Epstein plea deal
Labor Secretary Acosta defends Epstein plea deal

When he was arrested Saturday after flying to New Jersey on a private plane from Paris, federal authorities raided Epstein's Manhattan townhouse.

Inside, prosecutors have said, investigators found a "vast trove of lewd photographs" of young-looking women or girls, in addition to compact discs labeled "'Young [Name] + [Name],' 'Misc nudes 1,' and 'Girl pics nudes.'"

The seized photos included some of at least one girl whose lawyer has said "was underage at the time the relevant photographs were taken," prosecutors told a judge.

Epstein has pleaded not guilty in the case.

He faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted of the new charges: one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors.

U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein appears in a photograph taken for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services' sex offender registry March 28, 2017 and obtained by Reuters July 10, 2019.
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services | Handout | Reuters

On Wednesday, an article published by NBCNews.com detailed claims by a woman named Jennifer Araoz, who says she was 14 years old when a woman approached her outside her New York City high school and later introduced her to Epstein.

Araoz said that during visits to Epstein's townhouse she was manipulated into stripping down to her underwear and giving him massages that involved him masturbating. He then would pay her $300, she said.

She said that in 2002, when Araoz was 15 years old, "he raped me, forcefully raped me."

On Wednesday, U.S. Labor Secretary Alex Acosta defended a non-prosecution deal he had reached with Epstein in 2007, when Acosta was the U.S. Attorney for Miami.

The deal allowed Epstein to avoid being charged with up to five federal crimes related to conduct that mirrors what is alleged in the recently filed indictment in New York. It required Epstein to plead guilty to the Florida state charge of procuring an underage person for prostitution and to register as a sex offender.

Epstein ended up serving 13 months in state custody after pleading guilty in 2008. But he was allowed out of jail for much of that time on work release.

A number of Democratic lawmakers and presidential candidates have demanded that Acosta resign or be fired over the non-prosecution deal and the failure to notify Epstein's accusers when it was in the works and being finalized.

The Justice Department is conducting an internal probe into the non-prosecution deal with Epstein.

A federal judge earlier this year said prosecutors led by Acosta violated federal law by not informing Epstein's accusers about the agreement.

Epstein's current defense lawyer, Reid Weingarten, has suggested that he will challenge the new indictment because of a belief that the non-prosecution deal reached in 2007 was "global" in nature, meaning that it would bind any federal prosecutor from charging Epstein for conduct covered by the deal in Miami.

"This indictment is essentially a do-over, this is old stuff, this is ancient stuff," Weingarten said at Epstein's first court appearance in the case on Monday.

"This is essentially a re-do, and that's how it feels to us."

But Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, told reporters that the deal Epstein signed with Acosta's office is only binding on prosecutors in the Southern District of Florida, not on Berman's office.

Trump in a 2002 interview with New York magazine described his relationship with Epstein.

"I've known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy," Trump said in that interview.

"He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side," Trump said.

"No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life."

Trump earlier this week said he later had a falling-out with Epstein but refused to answer when asked what led to their split.

Epstein is a former options trader for Bear Stearns Cos. who started his own company, J. Epstein & Co.

Vanity Fair has reported that he had been the primary investor and money manager for Leslie Wexner, the founder of Limited Brands, now called L Brands Inc.

Wexner's spokesman told CNBC that Wexner had severed ties with Epstein more than a decade ago.

Read Jeffrey Epstein's proposed bail package here.