'I will not let him win in death' - Epstein's accusers tell of anger
Women who say Jeffrey Epstein sexually abused them voiced anger and defiance in a packed New York courtroom yesterday during a dramatic hearing less than three weeks after the financier killed himself while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
"I feel very angry and sad that justice has never been served in this case," Courtney Wild, one of the women, told the hearing before US District Judge Richard Berman.
"I will not let him win in death," another woman, Chauntae Davies, told the court.
Federal prosecutors appeared at the hearing to ask the judge to formally dismiss their case against Epstein.
Judge Berman explained why he gave the women and their lawyers an opportunity to address the court.
"The victims have been included in the proceeding today, both because of their relevant experiences and because they should always be involved before, rather than after, the fact," Judge Berman said at the outset of the hearing. Epstein, who once counted US President Donald Trump and former President Bill Clinton as friends, was arrested on July 6 and pleaded not guilty to federal charges of sex trafficking involving dozens of girls as young as 14.
The 66-year-old was found dead on August 10 in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Centre (MCC) in Lower Manhattan. An autopsy concluded that he hanged himself.
Ms Davies said she was hired by Epstein to give massages. The financier raped her the third or fourth time they met on his private island and continued to abuse her, she said. Another woman, who chose not to give her name, said Epstein's death must be investigated.
"We do need to know how he died. It felt like a whole new trauma... It didn't feel good to wake up that morning and find that he allegedly committed suicide," she said.
Another unnamed woman said she came to New York to become a model and was victimised by Epstein.
"I'm just angry that he's not alive to have to pay the price for his actions," she said.
Judge Berman ordered prosecutors and defence lawyers for Epstein to appear in court after the Manhattan US Attorney's office said it wanted to dismiss the indictment against the financier in light of his death.
During the hearing, attorney Brad Edwards, who represents women who say they were sexually abused by Epstein, said: "I have in the courtroom today 15 victims I represent and have represented over the years. There are at least 20 more who didn't make this hearing today."