Judge ends case against Ep­stein, with nod to ac­cusers

The Morning Call - - OBITUARIES | NATION & WORLD - By Larry Neumeis­ter

NEW YORK — A judge for­mally ended the crim­i­nal case against Jef­frey Ep­stein on Thurs­day, but not with­out a fi­nal trib­ute to the women who spoke out against the fi­nancier.

U.S. Dis­trict Judge Richard Ber­man took the pro­ce­dural step of adding his ini­tials to an or­der dis­miss­ing the in­dict­ment that charged the 66-year-old Ep­stein with con­spir­acy to com­mit sex traf­fick­ing of mi­nors and sex traf­fick­ing of mi­nors in the early 2000s in Florida and New York.

In re­quest­ing the ac­tion 10 days ear­lier, U.S. At­tor­ney Geoffrey Ber­man, who is not re­lated to the judge, noted that the law re­quired the dis­missal after Ep­stein killed him­self in jail Aug. 10 while he was await­ing trial.

Though an­tic­i­pated, Ber­man’s ac­tion in­cluded a ref­er­ence to a Tues­day court hearing where 16 women spoke about their claims against Ep­stein of sex­ual abuse, some com­mit­ted when they were un­der the age of con­sent. State­ments by sev­eral other women were read by their lawyers.

The judge said he was in­cor­po­rat­ing by ref­er­ence the hearing’s tran­script while he “un­der­scores the sig­nif­i­cance of the Crime Vic­tims’ Rights Act.”

Among other things, the vic­tims’ law en­sures crime vic­tims have the right to be heard at public court pro­ceed­ings re­gard­ing the ac­cused.

At the un­usual hearing, women de­tailed how Ep­stein abused them. The women said he used his fi­nan­cial power and con­nec­tions to fa­mous peo­ple to make them vul­ner­a­ble, some as teenagers, to sex­ual at­tacks that some­times con­tin­ued for years.

The al­le­ga­tions mir­rored crim­i­nal charges in which pros­e­cu­tors said Ep­stein re­peat­edly as­saulted women and teenage girls in the early 2000s at his $77 mil­lion Man­hat­tan man­sion and at another op­u­lent es­tate in Palm Beach, Florida.

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Wil­liam Barr has promised the Jus­tice De­part­ment he will pur­sue those who en­abled Ep­stein to carry out the sex­ual as­saults.

Ep­stein was ar­rested July 6 when he ar­rived at a New Jersey air­port on a pri­vate jet from Paris, where he some­times resided.

He had pleaded not guilty and his lawyers were pre­par­ing to sub­mit writ­ten ar­gu­ments next month to sup­port claims that the sex traf­fick­ing charges were negated by a deal Ep­stein reached with fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors more than 10 years ago. They agreed not to bring charges as he pleaded guilty in 2008 to state pros­ti­tu­tion-re­lated charges in Florida, where he served 13 months in jail.

Ep­stein’s lawyers said he had com­mit­ted no crimes since.

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