Financier Jeffrey Epstein looked physically healthy when he appeared in court in New York on Wednesday in his sex trafficking case, about a week after reportedly being found unconscious in his jail cell with neck injuries.
He wore dark blue jail scrubs during his brief appearance in Manhattan federal criminal court on Wednesday morning, in a proceeding scheduled before the apparent incident behind bars last week.
There were no signs of injuries that had been reported at the time and he appeared well and more neatly presented than at some previous hearings.
His lawyers did not bring up the incident in court and refused to comment on the topic following the hearing, which focused on scheduling issues.
Prosecutor Alison Moe asked for a June 2020 trial date to be set, telling the judge: "We don't think that any delay in this case is in the public interest."
The Manhattan US attorney’s office alleged earlier in July that Mr Epstein “sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls” from 2002 to 2005. Some of his victims were just 14 years old, prosecutors alleged.
The disgraced financier, who was arrested on July 6th, pleaded not guilty several weeks ago.
Mr Epstein has long been accused of sexually abusing underage girls. He also has purported connections to the US president Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew, and moved in elite circles, including for several years in a relationship with Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of the late British media tycoon Robert Maxwell.
Mr Epstein and the Miami US attorney's office, headed at the time by Alexander Acosta, brokered a plea deal in 2008 that closed a federal inquiry involving at least 40 teenage girls.
Under this arrangement, Mr Epstein pleaded guilty to state charges, which presented far less potential jail time than if he had faced federal charges. The Miami Herald reporter Julie K Brown exposed the secretive nature of this agreement. Mr Acosta resigned from his post as Mr Trump's labour secretary following extensive criticism of the deal.
Mr Epstein has unsuccessfully requested bail while awaiting trial. The 66-year-old, who registered as a sex offender following the Florida case, had maintained through lawyers that he neither posed a danger nor risk of flight.
In rejecting Mr Epstein's request, Judge Richard Berman said, "the government has established danger to others and to the community by clear and convincing evidence", adding: "I doubt that any bail package can overcome a danger to the community."
Mr Epstein’s lawyers are appealing against the decision, according to court filings.
Late last week, Judge Berman also ruled in favour of prosecutors’ proposed protective order, which will keep case materials relating to “the government’s ongoing investigation of uncharged individuals” under wraps. – Guardian