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Jeffrey Epstein abuse accusers have their day in court

Lawyer David Boies arrives with his client Virginia Giuffre

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Lawyer David Boies arrives with his client Virginia Roberts Giuffre

At least a dozen women who accused financier Jeffrey Epstein of sex abuse are speaking out before his criminal case is dismissed following his death.

The hearing in New York has been scheduled to give the alleged victims a chance to address the court.

A coroner ruled Epstein killed himself this month while awaiting trial on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.

Prosecutors say the investigation into Epstein is ongoing and charges could be brought against any co-conspirators.

Judge Richard Berman scheduled the hearing last week to allow both sides to “be heard, if they wish to be”.

On Tuesday, the judge began by observing that the case had “a rather stunning turn of events”.

Epstein had pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and was being held in custody without bail. He faced up to 45 years in prison if convicted.

Virginia Roberts was among the plaintiffs in court on Tuesday. She has accused Epstein of keeping her as a “sex slave” when she was a teenager. She has also alleged that she was forced on three occasions to have sex with Prince Andrew, who was a friend of the financier. The Duke of York denies the allegation.

Another of the alleged victims said in a statement through her lawyer to the Miami Herald: “I can’t say that I’m pleased he [Epstein] committed suicide, but I am at peace knowing he will not be able to hurt anyone else.”

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What were the circumstances of his death?

A New York medical examiner found that the 66-year-old, whose body was discovered on 10 August, died of “suicide by hanging” in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.

The FBI and Justice Department are investigating the incident to determine if there was any foul play.

Authorities told the Washington Post one hallway camera near Epstein’s cell has unusable footage, but clearer footage was captured in the area.

It is unclear what is visible in this footage or why the other video was not usable.

Two days before Epstein’s death, he signed a will, filed in the Virgin Islands, that funnelled his $577m (£475m) in assets into a trust fund.

A number of accusers have filed lawsuits against his estate.

Who was Jeffrey Epstein?

New York-born Epstein was a high school teacher before moving into finance and cultivating high-profile connections.

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Jeffrey Epstein, left, with Donald Trump at the current president’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida in 1997

He was often seen socialising with the rich and powerful, including former US President Bill Clinton, President Donald Trump and Prince Andrew.

In a 2002 profile in New York Magazine, Mr Trump praised Epstein as a “terrific guy”.

But this year, Mr Trump said he was “not a fan”.

What was Epstein charged with?

Epstein was accused of paying girls under the age of 18 to perform sex acts at his Manhattan and Florida mansions between 2002-05.

He was also accused of paying large amounts of money to two potential witnesses ahead of his trial, which was scheduled to take place next year.

Epstein was arrested on 6 July after landing in New Jersey on his private jet.

He avoided similar charges in a controversial secret plea deal in 2008, instead pleading guilty to a lesser charge.

Handling of the case was closely scrutinised in recent months and in July US Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, a former Miami prosecutor, resigned over his role in the plea deal.

Jeffrey Epstein abuse accusers have their day in court

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