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Jeffrey Epstein accusers vent their anger in court

Lawyer David Boies arrives with his client Virginia Giuffre

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Reuters

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Lawyer David Boies arrives with his client Virginia Giuffre

Women who accuse financier Jeffrey Epstein of sex abuse have spoken of their anger that he cheated justice by dying in prison.

About 15 plaintiffs got the chance to speak out in a Manhattan court as the criminal case was dismissed.

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

Prosecutors said the investigation was ongoing and charges could still be brought against any co-conspirators.

The 66-year-old tycoon – who once counted Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew as friends – was found unresponsive in his prison cell on 10 August.

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Reuters

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An unidentified women (L) arrives for the Epstein hearing with Gloria Allred, a lawyer representing alleged victims

What did the accusers say?

Courtney Wild, who has alleged Epstein sexually abused her when she was 14, told the court on Tuesday: “I feel very angry and sad. Justice has never been served in this case.”

Ms Wild, who says she was recruited to be a masseuse for Epstein on his private plane dubbed “the Lolita Express”, called him a “coward” who was able to “manipulate our justice system”.

Jennifer Araoz, who says Epstein raped her at his New York mansion when she was 15, told the court: “He robbed me of my dreams, of my chance to pursue a career I adored.

“The fact I will never have a chance to face my predator in court eats away at me. They let this man kill himself and kill the chance for justice for so many others.”

Another woman, Chauntae Davies, told the court: “I will not let him win in death.”

Ms Davies said she was raped by Epstein on his private island after being hired to give him massages.

Another woman, who chose to withhold her name, fought back tears as she told the court: “We do need to know how he died. It felt like a whole new trauma. It didn’t feel good to wake up that morning and find that he allegedly committed suicide.”

Virginia Giuffre, who accused Epstein of keeping her as a “sex slave”, said in court: “My hopes were quickly dashed and my dreams were stolen.”

She has said in a court deposition she was a 15 year old working at Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago golf resort in Florida when she was approached by British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell to give massages to Epstein.

Ms Giuffre has also alleged she was forced on three occasions to have sex with Prince Andrew, which he denies.

A number of accusers have filed lawsuits against Epstein’s estate. Two days before his death, he signed a will funnelling his $577m (£475m) in assets to a trust fund.

What was said about Epstein’s death?

Judge Richard Berman, who scheduled the hearing last week, began on Tuesday by observing that the case had taken “a rather stunning turn of events”.

Reid Weingarten, an attorney for Epstein, asked the judge to look into the circumstances of his client’s death.

The financier died of “suicide by hanging” in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, according to a New York medical examiner.

Mr Weingarten said the defence was “sceptical of the certitude of the medical examiner’s conclusion that this was suicide”, citing issues with video surveillance.

Brad Edwards, a lawyer representing Epstein’s accusers, told the court that the financier’s “untimely death” was “curious” and made it impossible for the alleged victims to find justice.

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

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

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

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Reuters

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 alleged to have paid large amounts of money to two potential witnesses ahead of his trial, which was scheduled for next year.

Epstein, who pleaded not guilty, was facing up to 45 years in prison if convicted.

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

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

The handling of that case – which deprived Epstein’s accusers the chance to confront him in court – has been closely scrutinised in recent months.

In July US Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, a former Miami prosecutor, resigned over his role in the plea deal.

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

Jeffrey Epstein accusers vent their anger in court

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