MANHATTAN (CN) – Federal authorities recovered nude photographs of underage girls from the Upper East Side mansion of extraordinarily wealthy pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, prosecutors revealed after unsealing a sex-trafficking indictment on Monday morning.
Wearing dark blue prison garb, the convicted pedophile pleaded not guilty this afternoon. U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman presided over today’s presentment and arraignment, occurring more than a decade after Epstein entered a secret plea deal in Florida that continues to haunt both his victims and a Trump cabinet member.
“Over the course of many years, the defendant, Jeffrey Epstein, sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls at his homes in Manhattan, New York, and Palm Beach, Florida, among other locations,” the 14-page indictment states.
With Judge Pitman giving the Epstein’s defense more time to make a case for bail, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Rossmiller warned that Epstein would pose “an extraordinary risk of flight” if released.
“He’s a man of nearly infinite means,” Rossmiller said.
During the day’s second Epstein hearing, U.S. District Judge Richard Berman asked prosecutors whether others might join the tycoon at the defense table.
“It may be early in your investigation to know,” Berman noted. “Do you anticipate that there may be other defendants in this proceeding?”
“Your honor, we don’t expect any imminent superseding indictments in this case,” Rossmiller replied. “It certainly is possible down the road.”
Miami Herald reporter Julie Brown has been widely credited for the reversal of fortune for Epstein, who had been allowed to serve out a paltry 13-month sentence in a county jail. Brown’s Polk Award-winning series “Perversion of Justice” revealed that Epstein largely spent that term outside of prison on work leave and included a nonprosecution agreement for Epstein’s associates.
“We were assisted by some excellent investigative journalism,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, who is of no relation to the federal judge, obliquely confirmed during a press conference.
The Herald’s revelations catapulted the decade-old deal back into the national conversation.
Defense attorney Reid Weingarten noted that the 2008 agreement had been “approved all the way up to Main Justice,” and seemed at the time to be a “global agreement.”
In the wake of the journalistic scrutiny, a federal judge in Florida is considering voiding that agreement as a violation of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act.
“That should chill the blood of every defense attorney who negotiates a deal with the United States,” Weingarten said.
New York prosecutors note that they are not a party to that agreement, and their allegations are based on evidence of crimes committed within their jurisdiction.
Epstein’s counsel noted that offenses their client pleaded guilty to in the Florida case were far more minor.
“Numerous girls were interviewed, employees were interviewed, and it is fair to say that a significant segment of the law enforcement community in Florida thought what we had in hand was simple prostitution,” Weingarten said. “There was no coercion. There were no threats. There was no violence. And it is also fair to say that a significant portion of the law enforcement community in Florida believed that a local misdemeanor was the appropriate sanction.”
Federal prosecutors bristled at that characterization of the tycoon’s conduct.