Jeffrey Epstein’s Victims, Denied a Trial, Vent Their Fury at a Hearing – The New York Times

“I believe it is the court’s responsibility, and manifestly within its purview, to ensure the victims in this case are treated fairly and with dignity,” he said at the start of the hearing.

Prosecutors had charged that Mr. Epstein, 66, brought dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14, to his mansion in New York and to his compound in Palm Beach, Fla., between 2002 and 2005. He then engaged in sex acts with the girls during naked massage sessions, prosecutors said, paying them hundreds of dollars in cash each time.

Mr. Epstein also encouraged some of his victims to recruit additional girls who were then abused, allowing him to maintain “a steady supply of new victims to exploit,” the indictment had charged. He was indicted on charges of sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy, and if convicted, could have faced up to 45 years in prison.

The judge, in a brief order, said he wanted to hold the hearing because the public might still have an “interest in the process by which the prosecutor seeks dismissal of an indictment.”

The judge did not elaborate, but his statement seemed to acknowledge the extraordinary public interest in the questions surrounding Mr. Epstein’s death and the future of the government’s broader investigation into his associates.

Judge Berman said in the order that he wanted to hear from the prosecution and the lawyers who had been representing Mr. Epstein, and he also invited Mr. Epstein’s accusers and their lawyers to address the court if they wished to.

As if to underscore the wide interest in the matter, the hearing was moved from the judge’s regular courtroom to a much larger one that is typically used for the high-profile cases.

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