Friday, August 30, 2019
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 M. 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 S. 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 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 Manhattan mansion and at another estate in Palm Beach, Fla.