Tuesday 17 September 2019

'Coward': Epstein's accusers pour anger out in court

Testimony: Jennifer Araoz said that even in death Jeffrey Epstein was trying to hurt her. Photo: Getty Images
Testimony: Jennifer Araoz said that even in death Jeffrey Epstein was trying to hurt her. Photo: Getty Images

Tom Hays and Larry Neumeister

One by one, 16 women who say they were sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein poured out their anger yesterday.

They branded him a coward and a manipulator, after a judge gave them the day in court they were denied when he killed himself behind bars.

"The fact I will never have a chance to face my predator in court eats away at my soul," said Jennifer Araoz, who has accused Epstein of raping her in his New York mansion when she was a 15-year-old aspiring actress.

"Even in death, Epstein is trying to hurt me. I had hoped to at last get an apology, but this evil man had no remorse or caring for what he did to anyone," she said.

The hearing was convened by US Judge Richard M Berman, who presided over the case after federal prosecutors had Epstein arrested last month.

The question before the judge was whether to throw out the indictment because of the defendant's death, a step usually undertaken without a hearing.

But the judge offered Epstein's accusers an extraordinary opportunity to speak in court.

In addition to the women who spoke - some publicly for the first time - statements from several others were read in court by their lawyers.

They vented their fury over Epstein's alleged crimes and his suicide in his jail cell on August 10 while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges involving dozens of teenage girls.

Repeatedly, the women described themselves as survivors and said they hoped coming forward would help others.

"I was a victim, but I will not remain a victim and be silent for one more day," said actress Anouska De Georgiou, who said she was sexually abused by Epstein as a teenager.

"Although I think it's tragic when anybody dies before their time, I'm extremely relieved that Jeffrey Epstein will not be in a position to hurt any more children or any more women."

Courtney Wild, who has said she was sexually abused by Epstein in Florida at age 14, called him a "coward" who had "robbed myself and all the other victims of our day in court to confront him."

Araoz said she felt let down by Epstein's jailers, too.

"They let this man kill himself and kill the chance for justice for so many others in the process," she said.

Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who has said she was a 15-year-old working at President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club when she was recruited to perform sex acts on Epstein, told the court: "My hopes were quickly dashed, and my dreams were stolen."

Sarah Ransome, who said Epstein pressured her into sex when she was in her early 20s, pleaded with prosecutors to go after those who helped the financier in his pursuit of victims.

"Please, please finish what you started," she said.

Among those under scrutiny: Epstein's girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, who has been accused of recruiting young women for his sexual pleasure and taking part in the abuse. She has denied wrongdoing.

During the two-and-a-half-hour proceedings, the women sometimes clutched one another to lend support.

Irish Independent

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