The Latest: House members request briefing on Epstein deal

NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on developments in the sex trafficking case against Jeffrey Epstein (all times local):

9:30 p.m.

Members of a House Judiciary subcommittee have sent a letter to the Justice Department requesting a briefing on the non-prosecution agreement between now-jailed financier Jeffrey Epstein and the former federal prosecutor in South Florida, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta.

In the letter addressed to Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen on Thursday, members of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security say they have “serious misgivings” about Acosta’s handling of the case and whether justice was fairly administered.

Under the 2008 non-prosecution agreement, Epstein pleaded guilty to state charges in Florida of soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution. That allowed him to avert a possible life sentence, instead serving 13 months in a work-release program. He was required to make payments to victims and register as a sex offender.

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3:10 p.m.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak is playing down his ties with Jeffrey Epstein — the U.S. financier facing sex-trafficking charges.

Barak’s connection with Epstein has emerged in Israel just days after the 78-year-old former premier announced his political comeback.

U.S. tax records show Barak received some $2 million in grants last decade from the Wexner Foundation. At the time of the grants, Epstein was a trustee of the foundation.

The documents say the grants were for unspecified “research.”

In a radio interview Thursday, Barak said he met Epstein several times but said he “didn’t support me or pay me.”

The Wexner Foundation did not immediately respond to queries seeking comment.

Epstein has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of abusing dozens of underage girls in New York and Florida in the early 2000s.

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2 p.m.

A massage therapist says she went to one of Jeffrey Epstein’s private Caribbean islands to work dozens of times in the early 2000s and saw “nothing out of the ordinary.”

She said she saw girls there on two occasions.

The woman spoke to The Associated Press on condition of being identified only by her initials, H.W., because she feared losing business.

She says she was never asked to do anything improper and didn’t make anything of seeing the girls on Little St. James Island, Epstein’s main retreat in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She was then in her 50s.

H.W. says one girl appeared to be 16 or 17 and rode an ATV. She glimpsed another girl hurrying from Epstein’s house.

Epstein faces federal charges of abusing dozens of underage girls in New York and Florida in the early 2000s. He’s pleaded not guilty.

Several employees who worked on Epstein’s property have refused to talk because they signed non-disclosure agreements.

— By Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico

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12:30 p.m.

Financier Jeffrey Epstein’s lawyers argue he should be held under house arrest with electronic monitoring pending trial despite prosecutors’ claims he could flee to dodge sex trafficking charges.

The lawyers argued for bail in court papers Thursday in Manhattan federal court. A bail hearing for the 66-year-old is set for Monday.

Prosecutors argued in court this week for Epstein to be jailed ahead of trial. They say a trove of what seems to be nude pictures of underage girls was found in his mansion after his arrest on charges that he sexually exploited and abused dozens of underage girls from 2002 to 2005.

Epstein’s lawyer says the new charges are “ancient history” and can’t be brought because of a decade-old federal non-prosecution agreement when he pleaded guilty in Florida state court.

Associated Press

Associated Press

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