MANHATTAN (CN) - More than a dozen victims of Jeffrey Epstein’s decades-long sexual abuse network gave voice to their traumatic stories in New York federal court Tuesday, two weeks after the finance tycoon hanged himself while awaiting trial in the neighboring jail.
Sixteen of Epstein's victims spoke in person, and another six had their statements read into the record, as part of the procedural close of Epstein’s prosecution in the Southern District of New York.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Maurene Comey reiterated at the hearing Tuesday that proceedings against Epstein’s recruiters and third-party co-conspirators remain ongoing.
“To be very clear, dismissal of this indictment as to Jeffrey Epstein in no way prohibits or inhibits the government's ongoing investigation into other potential coconspirators, nor does it prevent the bringing of a new case in the future or the prosecution of new defendants,” Comey said this morning.
Introduced in court by attorney Brad Edwards from the South Florida law firm Edwards Pottinger, the first victim to make a statement was Courtney Wild, who had previously urged U.S. District Judge Richard Berman at a July bail hearing to keep Epstein in pretrial detention for the safety of any girls who were trapped by his manipulation and abuse.
“Jeffrey Epstein sexually abused me for years, robbing me of my innocence and mental health,” Wild said during her brief remarks this morning, beginning a 90-minute queue of heart-wrenching victim stories.
“Jeffrey Epstein has done nothing but manipulate our justice system, where he has never been held accountable for his actions, even to this day,” Wild said. “Jeffrey Epstein robbed myself and all the other victims of our day in court to confront him one by one, and for that he is a coward.”
After Wild, Edwards introduced an anonymous accuser identified in court as Jane Doe #1 who said that Epstein’s death as had an incalculable impact in making her a victim.
“I don't like that word,” she said, “but I still feel like I am learning the ways that he's impacted me as a complex situation, but he was also a major part of my life.”
“It felt like a whole new trauma all over again, and I don't know why, you know, because I — I'm trying to defend myself against him at this point in my life, but it still does not feel good,” the first anonymous victim said. “It didn't feel good to wake up that morning and find out that he had allegedly committed suicide.”
Despite Epstein not being brought to trial, the victim said she was hopeful that the attention paid to the depraved Epstein saga could be cause for societal change.