Jeffrey Epstein was called a coward and a villain in a federal courtroom in Manhattan on Tuesday, as 16 women who said they were sexually abused by Epstein were given the chance to publicly share their fury; statements from more than a dozen others were read aloud. US District Judge Richard Berman said the women given the opportunity to speak at the hearing—in which prosecutors were expected dismiss the charges against Epstein—"because of their relevant experiences." Some of what was said (the names of women who chose to identify themselves have been included):
- Courtney Wild said Epstein abused her in Palm Beach, Florida, when she was 14, and that the abuse went on for years, per the AP and CNBC. She called him a "coward" whose suicide "robbed myself and all the other victims of our day in court to confront him one by one." She added, per the New York Times, "I feel very angry and sad. Justice has never been served in this case."
- Others pleaded that the case not die along with Epstein, who was found dead of an apparent suicide on Aug. 10. "Please, please finish what you have started ... we all know he did not act alone," said Sarah Ransome. One woman specifically referenced being recruited by Ghislaine Maxwell, who along with Epstein "made me seem as though I was part of a family, something I desperately needed." She says she threw up for days after being raped by Epstein.
- Accuser Theresa Helm named a second alleged accomplice: "My experience is with Ghislane Maxwell and Sarah Kellen, and they definitely need to be held accountable. It was almost a system, they need to be held accountable, all of them."
- Per the Times, a prosecutor said they would be. The dismissal of the charges against Epstein "in no way prohibits or inhibits the government’s ongoing investigation into other potential co-conspirators ... [which has] been ongoing, remain ongoing and will continue," said Maurene Comey.
- Another woman had this to say: "As destructive as that relationship was and as much of a villain as we’ve created him to be, based on facts, we’ve created him to be a villain, but he’s a complex villain."
- NBC News quotes the analogy given by one user, who said Epstein was "strategic in how he approached us. ... Each of us has a different story and different circumstances as to why we stayed in it. It was like the analogy where the frog is in the pot and the heat goes up over time."
- The AP reports one woman recounted being flown to New Mexico as a 15-year-old. She said Epstein molested her at his ranch there, and as he did so, she could see a dresser topped with photos of him posing with celebrities.
- Earlier Tuesday, the Washington Post reported by way of sources that while there is some clear footage from the jailhouse area where Epstein was held, the footage from at least one camera in the corridor outside his cell is "unusable." No further specifics were given. The Post's take is that it's yet another black mark for the Metropolitan Correctional Center.
- The women weren't the only angry ones in court. "We're quite angry," said Epstein lawyer Martin Weinberg in discussing the defense's own review of Epstein's death: Its expert found the neck-bone breaks were "more consistent with pressure ... with homicide" than suicide. The AP reports he asked Berman to pursue the matter. The prosecution called the topic "completely irrelevant to the purpose of today's proceeding." Berman replied, "Well, I don't know. ... I think it's fair game for defense counsel to raise its concerns."
(Read more Jeffrey Epstein