Dozens of women have accused the late financier Jeffrey Epstein of sexually abusing them at his estates in Palm Beach and the Virgin Islands. Ten years ago, he entered into a secret plea deal that allowed him to avoid federal prosecution for sex trafficking in exchange for a guilty plea on state charges. He served only 13 months, with lenient work release terms.
Epstein was awaiting trial for sex trafficking when he was found dead in his cell last year. His death was ruled a suicide.
Now, many victims are hoping that some justice can still be done in the form of lawsuits against the estate. The Superior Court of the Virgin Islands is in charge of setting up a compensation fund from which victims could apply.
There are three major parties in the case: the Attorney General of the Virgin Islands, Epstein’s estate and the victims. There has been an unusual amount of victim involvement in this case due to the scandal over the secret plea deal, which failed to take into account the needs of Epstein’s victims.
Now, the three groups are negotiating for how a compensation fund would operate.
The victims’ attorneys and the attorney general are seeking to have Marci Hamilton, an expert on child sex abuse, to play a key role in determining which victims receive funds. Attorneys for the Epstein estate are seeking a more limited role for Hamilton. In addition, they are hoping to require any victims who make claims against the fund to sign away the right to sue others who allegedly participated in the sex trafficking.
The Epstein estate’s lawyers argue that this requirement would ultimately serve to allow larger claims by the victims. This is because, they say, any other parties the victims sue would be likely to sue the estate in return. This could extend the length of the proceedings and reduce the value of the estate.
The attorney general and the victims would prefer to leave the option to sue others open.
There have been months of discussions between the attorney general and the Epstein estate, but the parties have been unable to come to a resolution. Therefore, they are asking the Superior Court to rule on how the compensation fund would be funded and administered.
No date for a decision by the court has been announced.
If you were a victim of Jeffrey Epstein, you may be interested in making a claim from this compensation fund, once it is set up. Contact an attorney who understands child sexual abuse litigation for assistance.