Jeffrey Epstein applies for house arrest over underage sex trafficking charges

Financier Jeffrey Epstein, who is awaiting trial for the sex trafficking of young girls, is seeking to be released from jail and placed under house arrest.

American financier Jeffrey Epstein has asked a federal judge to let him out of jail and allow him to remain under house arrest as he awaits trial on charges of sex trafficking involving underage girls.

In a filing in federal court in Manhattan on Thursday, Epstein's lawyers argued home confinement, along with electronic monitoring, surveillance and a bond secured by a mortgage on his $US77 million ($A110 million) Manhattan mansion would be enough to ensure that he does not flee the country.

US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman announces the charges against Jeffery Epstein
Source: Getty Images North America

New York-based federal prosecutors said at a court hearing on Monday they will oppose Epstein's release on bail, saying he poses an "extraordinary risk of flight" because of his wealth, private planes and significant international ties. They are due to respond to Epstein's motion by Friday evening.

Epstein, 66, was arrested on Saturday evening at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, where he had returned on his private plane from Paris. He pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking and conspiracy.

Jeffrey Epstein (center) in a a Palm Beach County courtroom on July 30, 2008.
Source: SIPA USA

The well-connected money manager was known for socialising with politicians and royalty, with friends who have included Republican US President Donald Trump, former Democratic president Bill Clinton and, according to court papers, Britain's Prince Andrew. None of those people was mentioned in the indictment.

According to an indictment, Epstein arranged for girls to perform nude "massages" and other sex acts, and paid some girls to recruit others, from at least 2002 to 2005. Prosecutors said he intentionally sought out girls under the age of 18.

Jeffrey Epstein (left) and Donald Trump at the Mar-a-Lago estate in 1997.
Source: Getty

Epstein had faced similar charges from federal prosecutors in Florida in 2007, but reached a deal to avoid federal prosecution by pleading guilty to a Florida state prostitution charge and registering as a sex offender. He served 13 months in a county jail, but was allowed to leave during the day to go to his office.

Epstein's lawyers have said the previous agreement should make him immune to the new charges, which cover the same period. The New York prosecutors have said they are not bound by the agreement.

Donald and Melania Trump, Jeffrey Epstein, and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell pose together at the Mar-a-Lago club in 2000.
Source: Getty

In Thursday's filing, Epstein's lawyers said their client had shown he was unlikely to flee through his "perfect compliance with onerous sex offender registration requirements - pinpointing his exact nightly whereabouts - across multiple jurisdictions over a 10-year period".

They said Epstein would nonetheless agree to be fitted with an electronic ankle bracelet, surrender his passport and de-register his private jet as conditions of his house arrest.

Published 12 July 2019 at 6:04am, updated 12 July 2019 at 7:15am