Confronted about allegations that he orchestrated a sex trafficking ring that brought girls to him and his high-profile acquaintances, financier Jeffrey Epstein repeatedly refused to answer so as not to incriminate himself, according to court records released Friday.
A partial transcript of a September 2016 deposition in a lawsuit was included in hundreds of pages of documents placed in a public file by a federal appeals court in New York.
The 66-year-old was arrested July 6 and has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges in a case that has brought down a Cabinet secretary and launched fresh investigations into how authorities dealt with Epstein over the years.
Epstein was asked in the videotaped deposition whether it was standard operating procedure for his former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, to bring underage girls to him to sexually abuse.
Epstein replied “Fifth,” as he did to numerous other questions, citing the constitutional amendment protecting people against incriminating themselves.
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He also was asked whether Maxwell was “one of the main women” he used to procure underage girls for sexual activities.
“Fifth,” he replied.
And he was asked whether Maxwell met one of the females she recruited for massages at the Mar-a-Lago resort owned by President Donald Trump in West Palm Beach.
“Fifth,” he replied.
Asked if he was a member of Mar-a-Lago in 2000, he replied once again, “Fifth,” according to the transcript.
Over 2,000 pages of documents made public by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals pertained to a since-settled lawsuit against Maxwell.
Epstein is charged in federal court in Manhattan with recruiting and abusing dozens of underage girls in New York and Florida in the early 2000s.
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His lawyers say the charges should never have been brought because Epstein is protected by an agreement he reached with federal prosecutors in Florida a dozen years ago. U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta resigned last month after coming under fire for overseeing that deal when he was U.S. attorney in Miami.
Attorney Martin Weinberg has said Epstein has not committed crimes since pleading guilty to charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution in Florida in 2008.
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At the time of Epstein’s arrest, prosecutors said they found a trove of pictures of nude and seminude young women and girls at his $77 million Manhattan mansion. They also say additional victims have come forward since Epstein’s arrest.
Epstein’s lawyers did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment Friday.
© 2019 The Canadian Press