More than 20 Jeffrey Epstein accusers gave emotional testimony in court as federal prosecutors motioned to dismiss the sex trafficking indictment against the deceased financier
- More than 20 accusers of Jeffrey Epstein testified in the Southern District of New York on Tuesday in what Judge Richard Berman called both "a matter of law" and "a measure of respect for the victims."
- 16 women emotionally recounted their experiences being allegedly sexually abused and, for some, being raped by Epstein when they were underage girls, many over a period of several months or years. An additional seven testimonies were read via statements presented by their lawyers or legal counsel.
- Before the accusers spoke, Assistant US Attorney Maurene Comey motioned to dismiss the indictment served to the now-deceased Epstein on charges of sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy, and Epstein's lawyers argued that the circumstances surrounding his death should be investigated in court.
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NEW YORK, NY - Three and half rows of women filled the left-hand side of the courtroom as assistant US attorney Maurene Comey motioned to dismiss the indictment against the now-deceased wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was charged with the sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy.
More than 20 of the women said they were victims of Epstein. One by one, 16 of them took the stand to recount what the convicted sex offender did to them, and how it has affected the rest of their lives. Lawyers read from an additional seven victims' statements, and some of the victims just sat and observed.
There were at least 30 more accusers who did not come to the courthouse in the Southern District of New York.
"I've suffered and he has won," Chauntae Davies, who says Epstein raped her after she was recruited to be his masseuse, said in between cries. "We have all suffered, and he is still winning in death. Please don't rob us of justice again."
Two hours of emotional testimony followed a logistical back-and-forth between District Judge Richard Berman, Comey, and Epstein's legal representation. Berman lamented the loss of a judicial process in the case against Epstein, who died by apparent suicide in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan after being refused bail. His death came two days after signing a new will.
Berman also sharply criticized an article published by the New York Law Journal the night before, which he said he understood was written in part by, though not credited to, Alan Dershowitz, a lawyer who had served on Epstein's legal team in Palm Beach, Florida, when he signed a non-prosecution plea deal ruled to have violated the Crime Victims' Rights Act.
One of Epstein's most vocal accusers, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who settled a defamation suit against his accused recruiter and ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, testified in court on Tuesday. She has also accused Dershowitz of raping her.
The article published by the New York Law Journal argues that Epstein's victims should not have been given a speaking role in the hearing to discuss the dismissal of the indictment against the deceased financier. Berman denounced the reasoning, stating that the hearing and the opportunity for victims' testimonies were "being done both as a matter of law and as a measure of respect for the victims."
Before the accusers were given the opportunity to stand and testify, Comey emphasized that the investigation into Epstein's co-conspirators was not over, echoing statements from the Department of Justice since Epstein's death that urged more victims to come forward. She noted that civil forfeiture was ongoing.
One of Epstein's lawyers, Martin Weinberg, brought up the circumstances surrounding his client's death and suggested that the broken neck bones he sustained during what was ruled a suicide were actually more consistent with a homicide and asked for Berman to investigate Epstein's death in court, as well as the poor conditions and mismanagement that has been reported on at the federally controlled MCC.
Comey disagreed that such a process would be possible, arguing that "no case, and no investigation" into any crimes meant that the independent investigations being conducted by the SDNY, the FBI, and the Office of the Inspector General in the DOJ would be sufficient. Berman then motioned for accusers' lawyers to introduce their clients, and more than 10 women rose to begin the process of recounting their testimonies.