Epstein, a politically connected multimillionaire who years earlier had resolved similar allegations with a plea deal that has widely been criticized as overly lenient, was arrested in July on new, federal charges of sexually abusing dozens of girls in the early 2000s. Prosecutors alleged that he effectively created a personal network of children that he could abuse, paying his victims to recruit others. He had pleaded not guilty and was fighting Berman’s order that he be held without bail when, by authorities’ account, he hanged himself in his cell on Aug. 10.
For those who say Epstein abused them, his death was yet another instance of his evading justice. It meant they would never be able to confront him at a trial. Prosecutors vowed to investigate and pursue those who aided Epstein in his alleged crimes but — required to do so by law — they moved to drop the new charges against him.
Though the outcome was inevitable, Berman convened a hearing to consider that request on Tuesday, allowing Epstein’s accusers to speak. One by one, they stood in court and tearfully described how Epstein had coerced, manipulated and abused them, and how they would forever have to live with the effects of his abuse.
Some could get financial compensation. At least six of those who say they were victimized by Epstein have joined lawsuits against his estate, and representatives for others say they plan to make similar efforts, although the scope is unclear.