By Brendan Pierson
NEWYORK (Reuters) – Women who say they were sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein will get a chance to discuss their accusations in a courtroom on Monday, less than three weeks after the financier killed himself while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are expected to ask U.S. District Judge Richard Berman to dismiss their case against Epstein in light of his death. Multiple alleged victims are also expected at the hearing, according to their lawyer, Gloria Allred.
Though the request to dismiss the case is routine, Berman scheduled a hearing on the matter, saying in a written order last week that “the public may still have an informational interest in the process by which the prosecutor seeks dismissal of an indictment.”
The judge said that the women who have accused Epstein of sexually abusing them and their lawyers would have an opportunity to address the court. Allred said she expected some of her clients to make statements.
Other lawyers representing Epstein’s alleged victims did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Epstein, who once counted U.S. President Donald Trump and former President Bill Clinton as friends, was arrested on July 6 and pleaded not guilty to federal charges of sex trafficking involving dozens of girls as young as 14.
The 66-year-old was found dead Aug. 10 in his cell inside a segregated housing unit of the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Lower Manhattan. An autopsy concluded that he hanged himself.
Epstein’s death has triggered investigations by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, which runs the detention facility.
Epstein’s arrest in New York came more than a decade after Epstein avoided being prosecuted on similar federal charges in Florida by striking a deal that allowed him to plead guilty to state prostitution charges.
That deal, which has been widely criticized as too lenient, resulted in Epstein serving 13 months in a county jail, which he was allowed to leave during the day on work release.
Multiple women have filed civil lawsuits against Epstein’s estate since his death, saying he abused them and seeking damages. Some have alleged the abuse continued after his plea deal and even while he was on work release from his previous jail sentence.
Just two days before his death, Epstein signed a will placing all of his property, worth more than $577 million, in a trust, according to a copy of the document seen by Reuters.
(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Cynthia Osterman)