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Judge invites alleged Jeffrey Epstein victims to speak at hearing in wake of his death

Posted at 9:49 AM, Aug 21, 2019

The federal judge overseeing the case against Jeffrey Epstein on Wednesday ordered a hearing to discuss prosecutors' effort to dismiss the indictment against the alleged sex trafficker in the wake of his death.

In a court filing, US District Court Judge Richard Berman said he believed the August 27 hearing would help shed light on the conclusion of the case against Epstein. The New York City medical examiner determined Epstein died by suicide while in jail on August 10.

"The court believes that where, as here, a defendant has died before any judgment has been entered against him, the public may still have an informational interest in the process by which the prosecutor seeks dismissal of an indictment," the judge wrote.

Even prior to Epstein's death, the case had attracted intense public interest.

The judge added that Epstein's alleged victims may speak at the hearing, along with their lawyers, prosecutors and Epstein's defense team.

Prosecutors file motion to dismiss indictment

Epstein had been charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking. Prosecutors accused him of operating a sex trafficking ring in which he both paid underage girls to have sex with him and paid some of them to recruit other victims.

He had pleaded not guilty and was set to face trial next year.

Prosecutors on Monday filed court papers to dismiss the indictment against Epstein, a routine step in a case in which the defendant has died. Prosecutors said in the court filing that they had "made efforts to contact all identified victims since learning of the death of the defendant and will similarly notify all known victims" of the order to dismiss the indictment.

Prosecutors had said hours after Epstein died that their office would continue to pursue an investigation of any of his alleged accomplices, and they hinted at that effort Monday.

"As this Office has previously stated publicly, it remains committed to doing its utmost to stand up for the victims who have already come forward, as well as for the many others who have yet to do so," prosecutors wrote.