Update2: All said and done, Tuesday’s hearing revealed that Epstein’s attorneys are skeptical of the official determination that he committed suicide, and asked Judge Berman to oversee an investigation into the 66-year-old’s death.
Meanwhile, a separate group of FBI agents and prosecutors are doing the same.
As noted below, prosecutors made clear that a dismissal against Epstein does not mean the investigation into co-conspirators will end, nor will it prevent the US Government from pursuing assets via civil forfeiture.
Berman took no action on the motion to dismiss. According to Bloomberg, he may do it in writing, or he may take time to think it over since some of the victims’ lawyers asked him to keep the record open.
The emotional two-and-a-half-hour testimony Tuesday came weeks after the 66-year-old financier killed himself in a New York jail cell while awaiting his sex trafficking trial.
The extraordinary court hearing was called by the judge presiding over Epstein’s trial. He set the hearing after prosecutors asked that he scrap charges against Epstein since the defendant is dead.
Many of the women said this was the closest they’d come to getting their day in court.
Most remained composed but several cried as they described falling into Epstein’s web.
His death left some of them angry, others sad and one of them described her relief that he was gone and could abuse no others. –Bloomberg
Update: Accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre said she was a 15-year-old working at President Turmp’s Mar-a-Lago club when she was recruited to perform sex acts on Epstein, according to AP, testifying “My hopes were quickly dashed and my dreams were stolen.”
Sarah Ransome, who said Epstein pressured her into unwanted sex when she was in her early 20s, encouraged prosecutors in their efforts to bring others to justice, saying: “Finish what you started. … We are survivors and the pursuit of justice should not abate.” –AP
“Jeffrey Epstein sexually abused me for years,” according to accuser Courtney Wild, who told a US District Court in Manhattan on Tuesday that Epstein’s death – ruled a suicide – “robbed myself and all the other victims of our day in court.”
Wild called Epstein a “coward” during the hearing to formally dismiss the case against the dead pedophile.
“I feel very angry and sad and justice has never been served in this case,” she added.
US District Judge Richard Berman said that Epstein’s August 10 suicide was a “stunning turn of events,” and that accusers should be heard during today’s hearing “because of their relevant experiences.”
Up to 30 women were expected to address the court, along with prosecutors and Epstein’s lawyers. Lawyer Brad Williams, who represents dozens of accusers, said that 15 women he represents will testify on Tuesday, while another 20 declined — “some out of fear of public exposure, others because the way in which this case ended will never bring full justice and they decided it was best for them not to talk today.”
Another accuser, who did not disclose her name, told Judge Richard Berman on Tuesday “It didn’t feel good to wake up that morning and hear he allegedly committed suicide.”
“I still feel like I’m learning the ways he’s impacted me,” that woman said.
A third woman, who also did not give her name, said ”“I think that many of us will never heal from what happened to us.”
“As destructive as that relationship was and as much of a villian as we’ve created him to be, based on facts, we’ve created him to be a villian, but he’s a complex villian.” –CNBC
According to the prosecutor, the dismissal against Epstein “in no way” hinders their investigation into other co-conspirators – or the prosecution of new defendants. Furthermore, the government may explore “the possibility of seeking civil forfeiture of any assets that would facilitate the crimes charged in this indictment.”
The prosecutor added that there are teams of FBI agents and other investigators probing Epstein’s death at the Manhattan Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC), and that there is an active and ongoing grand jury investigation into what happened.
Of note, attorney David Boies – who represents Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre, said “Epstein did not act alone,” adding “He could not have done what he did, on such scope and scale, for as many years as he did, without a number of other key individuals. Those individuals need to bear their share of responsibility and have their reckoning as well.”
Epstein attorney Martin Weinberg noted that Judge Berman has the authority to go to the ninth floor of the MCC where Epstein was housed and witness how pretrial defendants are housed, according to Bloomberg legal reporter Chris Dolmetsch.