A New York federal judge officially closed the criminal case against shamed former financier Jeffrey Epstein, it was announced on Thursday afternoon.
Prosecutors previously requested US District Judge Richard Berman to terminate the sex trafficking case against Epstein after his suicide in a Manhattan federal jail on August 10.
Dismissing an indictment against a deceased person is considered a formality, however Berman unconventionally scheduled an open-ended hearing first, inviting the alleged victims and their lawyers to speak before dropping the case.
On Tuesday, 23 victims came forward to testify about the purported abuse 66-year-old Epstein subjected them to, spanning several decades.
His suicide ‘robbed’ his victims of the chance ‘to confront him one by one’ in court, said Courtney Wild, the first accuser to speak at the hearing. ‘For that, he is a coward.’
Wild claimed to be sexually abused over a number of years.
Following Tuesday’s hearing, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman, and the FBI met with several of the women, issuing them thanks for bravely sharing their stories and emphasized the criminal investigation into the accused sex trafficker’s potential co-conspirators is ongoing.
The termination of Epstein’s case will not affect any civil claims brought by the victims against Epstein’s estate, or the federal grand jury investigation into his death.
Epstein, a wealthy money manager who once counted President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton and Britain’s Prince Andrew as friends, was arrested on July 6 and pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges involving dozens of girls as young as 14.
He was found dead in his Manhattan jail cell on earlier this month, having been previously taken off suicide watch. A New York City medical examiner concluded that he had died of suicide by hanging.
Epstein’s lawyers said at Tuesday’s hearing that they had doubts about the examiner’s conclusion. The FBI is examining two cameras that were outside the cell that malfunctioned, a law enforcement source has told Reuters.
The cameras were sent to Quantico, Virginia, site of a major FBI crime lab where agents and forensic scientists analyze evidence.
The Washington Post reported on Monday that at least one camera in the hallway outside Epstein’s cell had footage that was unusable. The newspaper said there was other usable footage captured in the area.
The U.S. Justice Department declined comment. The FBI and Federal Bureau of Prisons did not respond to requests for comment. All are investigating his death. Lawyers for Epstein also did not respond to requests for comment.
A source said earlier two jail guards had failed to follow a procedure overnight to make separate checks on all prisoners every 30 minutes.