Judge invites Epstein victims to speak at Tuesday hearing

Judge invites Epstein victims to speak at Tuesday hearing
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District Court Judge Richard Berman on Wednesday ruled that the federal criminal case against the late financier and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein will remain open until a Tuesday hearing where he will allow his victims to speak.

Federal prosecutors had earlier asked Berman, a Clinton appointee on the bench of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, to close the federal sex-trafficking case against Epstein, who was found dead in federal custody on Aug. 10. The medical examiner ruled that his death was a suicide.

In a court filing Wednesday, though, Berman scheduled a public hearing for 10:30 on the morning of Aug. 27, and invited Epstein's accusers to appear.

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"The public may still have an informational interest in the process by which the prosecutor seeks dismissal of an indictment," Berman said. “The Court believes that where, as here, a defendant has died before any judgment has been entered against him, the public may still have an informational interest in the process by which the prosecutor seeks dismissal of an indictment.

"At the hearing, Counsel for the Government and for the deceased Defendant, Jeffrey Epstein, will be heard. Counsel for the victims and the victims will also be heard, if they wish to be," he added.

Several women who say Epstein sexually abused them are also suing his estate under a New York law that suspends the statute of limitations for civil claims of child sexual abuse.

In a New York Times column last week, Jennifer Araoz, the first woman to sue his estate under the law, wrote that while the late registered sex offender will not “have to personally answer to me,” the law will offer his victims some form of justice.

“Reliving these experiences is tough, but I’ve learned to be tougher. I used to feel alone, walking into his mansion with the cameras pointing at me, but now I have the power of the law on my side,” she wrote.