By Brendan Pierson
NEWYORK (Reuters) – Three women on Tuesday sued the estate of Jeffrey Epstein, saying they were sexually abused by the financier, both before and after his controversial plea deal that allowed him to avoid federal prosecution for sex crimes in 2007.
The lawsuits, filed in Manhattan federal court, bring the total number of civil cases against Epstein’s estate since his apparent suicide in jail on Aug. 10 to at least five.
Two of the women say they met Epstein when they were 17, while a third said she met him when she was 20. All describe similar patterns of being brought to Epstein’s home to provide massages and then subjected to repeated, unwanted sex acts.
All said the abuse continued after Epstein reached a deal with Florida federal prosecutors in 2007. The deal allowed him to plead guilty to state prostitution charges and spend 13 months in a county jail, during which he was allowed to leave during the day on work release.
Two of the women said in their lawsuits that Epstein continued to abuse them even during his work release, while the third said abuse resumed after the sentence ended.
Lawyers for Epstein could not immediately be reached for comment.
Epstein was arrested on July 6 and pleaded not guilty to charges of sex trafficking involving dozens of underage girls as young as 14. He died on Aug. 10 in his jail cell at age 66, and an autopsy report released on Friday concluded he hanged himself.
Just two days before, Epstein had signed a will placing all of his property, worth more than $577 million, in a trust called The 1953 Trust after the year of his birth, according to a copy of the document seen by Reuters.
His death at the jail triggered multiple investigations and had prompted U.S. Attorney General William Barr to criticise “serious irregularities” at the facility, and to remove the acting chief of the federal Bureau of Prisons.
Epstein, a registered sex offender, once socialized with U.S. President Donald Trump and former President Bill Clinton.
His 2007 non-prosecution agreement has been widely criticized as too lenient. Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, who oversaw the deal as U.S. Attorney in Florida, resigned from his post after Epstein’s arrest.
(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Andrea Ricci)