Annie Farmer told the judge that she was 16 when she met Epstein in New York, and he flew her to New Mexico.
“He was inappropriate with me,” she said. As she spoke, she choked up and said she preferred not to provide details. Epstein appeared to stare at her as she spoke.
Courtney Wild said Epstein abused her in Palm Beach, Fla., starting when she was 14.
“He is a scary person to have walking the street,” she said.
Epstein, 66, was arrested about a week ago and charged federally with sexually abusing dozens of children from 2002 to 2005. His case has riveted the nation, in part because of his wealth and connections, and partly because of a plea deal he reached in 2008 to resolve similar allegations.
The deal allowed Epstein to spend only about a year in jail and plead guilty only to state crimes, avoiding federal charges entirely. It was approved by then-U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta, who was later tapped to be President Trump’s labor secretary. Acosta resigned Friday amid the metastasizing controversy surrounding his handling of the case.
Acosta said prosecutors wanted to guarantee Jeffrey Epstein would go to jail. The reality is more complicated.
Epstein has pleaded not guilty to the new charges. His defense attorneys have said that prosecutors are inappropriately bringing a new case based on allegations that Epstein thought were covered by his earlier agreement, which they claimed senior Justice Department officials were involved in.
Berman convened Monday’s hearing to help determine whether Epstein should remain jailed before a trial.
Prosecutors portrayed Epstein as an unrepentant criminal whose wealth would enable him to flee, and noted that just that morning they had accessed a safe in which he kept piles of cash, dozens of diamonds and a passport from the 1980s that had a photo of Epstein’s face but a different name. It listed the holder’s residence as Saudi Arabia, they said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Rossmiller said, though, that prosecutors have an incomplete picture of Epstein’s wealth, because the one-page summary of his finances filed with the court does not list his bank accounts or say where else he might have cash or valuables stored. Taking particular aim at Epstein’s offer to pay for round-the-clock security if he were released to home confinement, Rossmiller said: “What the defendant is asking for here is special treatment, to build his own jail, to be limited in his own gilded cage.”
He added: “The court should have no confidence that the defendant would stick around.”
Prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York have previously asserted that Epstein is worth more than $500 million, counts among his many properties a private island, and has access to two private jets. When he was arrested, investigators searched his home and found hundreds or possibly thousands of images of nude or partially nude females, some of whom appeared to be children, prosecutors said.
Rossmiller said investigators had identified at least one of those females. He also said several other possible victims have approached investigators since Epstein’s arrest, asserting that prosecutors had been able to “dramatically expand” their investigation and saying their case was “getting stronger every single day.”
Prosecutors also alleged that Epstein has a history of trying to obstruct inquiries into his misdeeds, and on Friday they said he had paid $350,000 to two people who investigators had identified as co-conspirators. The timing of the payments — soon after the Miami Herald began reporting on his case in 2018 — suggested Epstein was trying to “influence” the people, prosecutors alleged.
Defense attorney Martin Weinberg said prosecutors had not proved the payments were something other than an “act of generosity,” and said that when the Herald article was published, Epstein did not think he was in legal jeopardy. There was, however, civil litigation about the case at the time, and David Boies, who represents some who allege Epstein abused them, said Epstein pressured witnesses not to cooperate.
Epstein paid suspected co-conspirators, which prosecutors suggest may have been to ‘influence’ them
Epstein’s defense attorneys have argued that he should be free on bail, albeit with stringent conditions. They said in court filings he was willing to put up his Manhattan mansion and a private jet as collateral, and agree to home confinement and GPS monitoring.
Defense attorneys also argued, as they have in the past, that prosecutors are rehashing allegations for which Epstein has already served time. They noted that high-ranking Justice Department officials approved of or were otherwise involved in his agreement to avoid federal charges, including Mark Filip, was who deputy attorney general at the time; Alice Fisher, who led the department’s criminal division; John Roth, who worked in the criminal division and the deputy attorney general’s office; and Sigal Mandelker, who worked in the criminal division and now works at the Treasury Department.
Roth said the lawyers’ statement is “not an accurate description” of his role in the case, but he declined to comment further. Through a spokeswoman, Fisher said it was a “mischaracterization” to suggest she approved the deal, but declined to comment further. Efforts to reach the others on Monday were not immediately successful.
A person familiar with Justice Department deliberations at the time, who described them on the condition of anonymity, said Epstein’s lawyers had pushed for Justice to intervene, but officials refused to do so and did not believe Acosta’s office had treated Epstein inappropriately. None of these officials was involved in “approving” the agreement, this person said.
In a 2008 letter to one of Epstein’s attorneys, a Justice Department criminal division official wrote that it had, at the attorney’s request, examined “the narrow question as to whether there is a legitimate basis for the U.S. Attorney’s Office to proceed with a federal prosecution of Mr. Epstein,” and had not “looked at the entire universe of facts in this case” or the plea offer.
Weinberg argued Monday that Epstein had not been accused of wrongdoing since 2005, when he learned he was under investigation in Florida. “He wasn’t a predator who couldn’t control himself,” Weinberg said. “He disciplined himself.”
Berman appeared skeptical of that argument. Some studies have shown that recidivism among sexual abusers increases significantly after 15 years, the judge said.
“It’s not like he is an out-of-control rapist,” Weinberg said.
“How do you know?” Berman countered.
Epstein is being held in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, the same federal jail that houses notorious drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. His attorney said he is being held in an isolation unit, making preparations for trial difficult. The judge, though, seemed skeptical of that as a reason he should be released on bail.
“Everybody has a right to consult with counsel,” Berman said. “If that’s the standard, what are we going to tell those people who can’t make a $500 or $1,000 bail?”
Devlin Barrett contributed to this report.