Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged victims expressed anger and disappointment Saturday that the wealthy financier won’t face his day in court after reportedly killing himself. The criminal case against Epstein ends with his death, because no one else was charged in the indictment that detailed allegations of how he had been involved in sex trafficking minors for years. That means there “won’t be a public trial,” and “evidence collected via grand jury subpoena won’t be released to the public,” details former prosecutor Renato Mariotti. Even if the criminal case effectively ends with Epstein’s death, several victims and their advocates vowed to continue seeking justice through civil cases. In addition, there will likely be renewed attention on investigations that had been ordered into Epstein’s jail work release and other irregularities in the case should still move forward.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman issued a statement Saturday making clear that the investigation into Epstein remains open and he encouraged other potential victims to come forward. “To those brave young women who have already come forward and to the many others who have yet to do so, let me reiterate that we remain committed to standing for you, and our investigation of the conduct charged in the Indictment – which included a conspiracy count – remains ongoing,” Berman said.
Jennifer Araoz, who alleges Epstein raped her when she was 15, said she was “angry” at hearing of the financier’s suicide. “We have to live with the scars of his actions for the rest of our lives, while he will never face the consequences of the crimes he committed, the pain and trauma he caused so many people,” she said in a statement. “Epstein is gone, but justice must still be served. I hope the authorities will pursue and prosecute his accomplices and enablers, and ensure redress for his victims.”
Attorneys representing the victims vowed to make sure that happens. Civil rights attorney Lisa Bloom, who represents several of Epstein’s accusers, said that “we would have preferred he lived to face justice” but insisted that “we’re just getting started.” Bloom emphasized that “civil case can still proceed against his estate” and noted that “victims deserve to be made whole for the lifelong damage he caused.” Speaking on MSNBC, Bloom called on Epstein’s estate to freeze his assets “so his victims can get full and fair compensation for the lifelong injuries he’s caused them.”
David Boies, another attorney for alleged Epstein victims, espoused a similar message saying that the financier’s death closes “only one chapter” of the legal battle. “Jeffrey Epstein did not act, and could not have done what he did, alone. Justice demands that those who acted with him also be held accountable,” he said. Sigrid McCawley, an attorney who also represents alleged Epstein victims, agreed with that message, noting, “We are hopeful that the government will continue to investigate and will focus on those who participated and facilitated Epstein’s horrifying sex trafficking scheme that damaged so many.”
It wasn’t just attorneys either who vowed to push through with legal efforts. Florida state Sen. Lauren Book also vowed that she would continue pushing to help Epstein’s alleged enablers to justice. “While some answers died with Jeffrey Epstein, there are still questions to be asked and individuals to be held accountable,” she said. “So for those who assisted Epstein and for those who took part in his sick criminal acts, we shall pursue justice every single day until every last criminal has been caught.”
Several members of Congress also called for investigations, with Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel saying that with the ending of the criminal procedures against Epstein due to his death, “it is important that the US House Committee on Oversight and Reform begin its investigation.” The Florida lawmaker who represents Palm Beach, where Epstein owned a home, said that the financier’s death “does not end the need for justice.” Other lawmakers also chimed in and called for Congress to investigate Epstein’s death. Rep. Jared Huffman said that the Department of Justice “cannot be trusted” to investigate and there should be an independent probe into Epstein’s death. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican lawmaker from Florida, called on the chairman of the Judiciary Committee to “prioritize a Judiciary investigation into how Jeffrey Epstein died in federal custody” over other issues.
All this renewed attention toward those who are thought to have facilitated Epstein’s alleged criminal activity could also increase pressure for results in the ongoing investigations into the controversial plea deal he received in 2008 courtesy of former Labor Secretary Alex Acosta. After Epstein pleaded guilty to prostitution-related charges in 2008, Epstein served a 13-month jail sentence in which he was allowed out on work release for 12 hours per day, six days a week.*
Shortly after Epstein’s death, some were already speculating about whether there would be renewed focus on Ghislaine Maxwell, the socialite who had a close relationship with Epstein and was accused of acting as a recruiter for the financier’s sex trafficking. New documents released Friday painted a “chilling picture” of how girls and young women were trafficked by Epstein and Maxwell, reported the Miami Herald. The documents give details about “Maxwell’s obsessive and often abusive quest to provide him with new girls over a span of years in the early to mid 2000s.”
Correction, Aug. 10, 2019, at 1:50 p.m.: An earlier version of this post misstated that Epstein received a 13-month jail sentence. He served 13 months of an 18-month sentence.
This is a breaking news story and has been updated with new information since it was first published.