Federal Judge Just Order Over 30 TESTIFIERS to speak out at New York court hearing on Jeffrey Epstein ‘Prosecution’
Up to 30 women are expected to take a judge up on his invitation to speak at a Court hearing after Jeffrey Epstein killed himself while facing sex trafficking charges.
The hearing on Tuesday morning was scheduled last week by US district judge Richard Berman, who presided over the case prosecutors brought against Epstein after the 66-year-old convicted criminal was arrested on 6 July after he arrived at a New Jersey airport from Paris.
A New York coroner has formally classified Epstein’s death as a suicide. He died on 10 August.
Epstein, long accused of abusing teen girls, was faced with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy counts.
Berman on Tuesday morning in the New York courtroom addressed Epstein’s death prior to victim testimony.
“The news on August 10 2019 that Jeffrey Epstein had been found dead in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, the MCC, was certainly shocking,” Berman said. “Most of you, and myself for that matter, were anticipating that the next steps in this case would be defense motion practice – including motion to dismiss – followed by a trial on the merits before a jury if the motions were not successful, through which the accusers and the accused would come face-to-face allowing everyone to get their day in court.”
He continued: “Mr. Epstein’s death obviously means that a trial in which he is a defendant cannot take place. It is a rather stunning turn of events.”
The US attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, which prosecuted the case, alleged that the financier sexually abused minors as young as 14 at his Palm Beach, Florida, and New York City homes between 2002 and 2005.
Many Epstein accusers heralded his arrest as an opportunity to get justice after years of inaction from authorities.
But Epstein committed suicide in custody on 10 August, bringing an end to the criminal case against him.
Federal prosecutors in New York and US attorney general William Barr vowed that the investigation into potential co-conspirators would continue.
The judge set Tuesday’s hearing after prosecutors asked that he scrap charges against Epstein since the defendant is dead. Berman said he would give prosecutors, Epstein lawyers and any victims a chance to speak.
Since the hearing was scheduled, it was revealed that Epstein signed a will just two days before his suicide, putting over $577m in assets into a trust fund. The will, filed in the Virgin Islands, where Epstein maintained a residence, was expected to make it more difficult for dozens of accusers to collect damages from his estate after his death.
Epstein had pleaded not guilty.
Barr removed the acting director of the Bureau of Prisons from his position, placed two guards who were supposed to be watching Epstein the morning he died on administrative leave and temporarily reassigned the warden to the Metropolitan correctional center in New York, where Epstein died.
At the time of his death, Epstein was preparing through his lawyers to argue, in court papers due in September, that he could not be prosecuted because he signed a no-prosecution deal a dozen years ago in Florida, overseen by then-federal prosecutor Alex Acosta. He later became Donald Trump’s labor secretary and resigned last month as the spotlight fell back on the old Florida deal while the new case unfolded.
Prosecutors in New York said that deal did not prevent the new charges. Epstein signed it before he pleaded guilty to Florida state charges in 2008, admitting sexual relations with teenage girls under the age of consent.
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