Alleged victims of Jeffrey Epstein, many of whom were underage girls at the time, may now file claims to be compensated for enduring his abuse.
After months of negotiating between counsel for the executors of Epstein’s estate and the alleged victims, a probate judge in the US Virgin Islands gave the compensation program the green light in early June. Claims can be filed starting Thursday.
Epstein allegedly transported underage girls to his homes in the US Virgin Islands and forced them into sex work from 2001 through 2018, according to a lawsuit filed by the Attorney General of the US Virgin Islands. At the time of his death, the multi-millionaire was charged in a federal criminal case alleging that he ran a sex trafficking enterprise at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida.
Epstein was found dead in a federal detention facility in August 2019 before he could be brought to trial. He had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Attorneys for Epstein’s estate executors first filed a request that November to pursue a victim compensation fund to avoid litigation. Attorneys for several victims negotiated over the fund for months.
“There is no reason not to pursue justice for the victims through the Victim Compensation Program,” Brad Edwards, an attorney for multiple alleged victims, told CNN. “If the Program is administered fairly, which we have great confidence it will be, then the victims will finally gain closure to this chapter, which they all want and deserve.”
The program will be spearheaded by Jordana Feldman, known for her work as the former deputy special master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Feldman will vet the claims and how much each victim is awarded is at her discretion, according to court documents.
There is no cap on the amount of funds available to compensate eligible victims as long as the estate funds last.
If victims accept compensation, they wave their right to future litigation against Epstein’s estate, but they can reject or withdraw their claim at any time before they sign a release.
The suit filed in the US Virgin Islands in January alleged that Epstein used a system of private planes, helicopters, boats and vehicles to bring young women and girls to his island residence on Little St. James. There, the victims were “deceptively subjected to sexual servitude, forced to engage in sexual acts and coerced into commercial sexual activity and forced labor,” the lawsuit said.
The scheme led to the molestation and exploitation of “numerous” girls between 12 and 17 years old, the suit alleged.
The federal case also said Epstein worked with employees and associates to lure the girls to his residences and paid some of his victims to recruit other girls for him to abuse.