What promised to be a salacious trial probing billionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual relationships with underage girls won’t get underway next week as planned.
Citing the many unanswered legal questions that still swirl around the 8-year-old civil lawsuit pitting attorney Bradley Edwards against the 64-year-old Palm Beach convicted sex offender, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Donald Hafele agreed to delay the trial until March.
“Under the circumstances of this unusual and relatively complex case, the court finds that there are simply too many significant, lengthy motions that are pending and need to be heard prior to December 5, 2017, the date that the trial was originally scheduled to commence,” Hafele wrote in an order, granting a motion from Epstein’s new defense team to delay the trial until next year.
During a hearing Wednesday, Hafele made it clear that he doesn’t want the trial to become X-rated. When it comes to “graphic, sexual questions, the likelihood is that I will not allow them into evidence,” Hafele said.
But he acknowledged that his efforts to sanitize the trial will be difficult given that the allegations against Epstein involve lawsuits Edwards filed on behalf of three of dozens of teenage girls who claim they were paid to give the billionaire money manager sexually-charged massages at his Palm Beach mansion.
Further, Hafele said, it is likely jurors will be told about a controversial non-prosecution agreement Epstein negotiated with federal prosecutors. In 2008, he agreed to plead guilty to two state charges — soliciting prostitution and procuring a minor for prostitution — and served roughly 13 months of an 18-month sentence. In exchange, federal prosecutors agreed not to pursue allegations that he had abused dozens of other teenage girls, instead allowing them to file civil lawsuits against Epstein.