Judge Richard Berman presiding over the Jeffrey Epstein trial, took the unprecedented step on Tuesday (27 August) of allowing the victims and survivors, who accused the late Jeffrey Epstein of sexual offences, to make impact statements in the case against Epstein.
Federal prosecutors in the case required permission from the judge to drop the sex trafficking charges following Epstein’s death. The hearing was scheduled so that the victims and survivors could tell their stories before the case against Epstein was dismissed. Judge Berman, who is also a licensed social worker and has written a number of articles on child abuse and safeguarding, praised the complainants for having “the courage to come forward.”
Sixteen of the victims and survivors gave evidence in person. Some of the women elected to use their real names, others were given various Jane Doe ciphers. For a number of the women, it was the first time they had spoken publicly about Epstein.
Whilst the criminal investigation into Epstein has ended with his untimely death, federal prosecutors have given assurances that the government is looking to pursue others connected with Epstein, insisting the investigations, “have been ongoing, remain ongoing, and will continue.”
Silencing critics of the decision to allow the victims a speaking role, the judge stated that the hearing was taking place as it was the court’s responsibility to ensure that “the victims in this case are treated fairly and with dignity.” Epstein had previously pleaded guilty in 2008 to soliciting and procurement charges relating to an underage girl, and a plea deal was reached as a result. Tuesday’s hearing was the first time that his accusers were given an opportunity in this way to ventilate their feelings.
There will remain an uphill battle for justice for those looking to bring claims against Epstein’s estate, as it was claimed that two days before his death, Epstein made a will, transferring over $500 million to a trust fund.
A look at the words of Epstein’s accusers
“The fact that I will never have a chance to face my predator in court eats away at my soul.” – Jennifer Araoz.
“She told me his right-hand person had connections to the arts and the fashion world, and she could help me.” – Marijke Chartouni.
“I couldn’t fight back when Jeffrey Epstein sexually abused me because I hadn’t yet found my voice. Well, I have found my voice now, and while Jeffrey may no longer be here to hear it, I will not stop fighting, and I will not be silenced anymore.” – Chauntae Davies.
“I was going to start this statement by saying that I was a victim of Jeffrey Epstein. But that’s not the case. I’m still a victim of Jeffrey Epstein.” – Teala Davies.
“Today we stand together. I will not remain a victim and be silent for one more day.” – Anouska De Georgiou.
“Even though this whole situation sucks, I would like to think that it may be possibly a catalyst for change because, obviously, as we’re seeing with the ‘Me Too’ movement, change needs to happen. What I’m seeing in the papers is not a common story, but it’s so much more common than you realise.” – Jane Doe #1.
“A lot of us were in very vulnerable situations and in extreme poverty, circumstances where we didn’t have anyone on our side.” – Jane Doe #2.
“My world kind of spiralled after that.” – Jane Doe #3.
“We will always carry irreparable damage and pain throughout our lives after this. It’s something that’s never going to go away.” – Jane Doe #4.
“You paid for your freedom. You violated my rights. You should have to pay for them, just as anyone else.” – Jane Doe #5.
“I do not consider myself a victim. I see myself a survivor.” – Jane Doe #6.
“I used to be relatively carefree, inquisitive, hopeful, and excited about life, but my life changed because of Jeffrey Epstein.” – Jane Doe #7.
“I cannot say that I am pleased he committed suicide, but I am at peace knowing he will not be able to hurt anyone else.” – Jane Doe #8.
“What I remember most vividly is him explaining how beneficial the experience was for me, and how much he was helping me to grow. Yikes.” – Jane Doe #9.
“His actions placed me, a young girl, into a downward spiral to the point where I purchased a gun and drove myself to an isolated place to end my suffering.” – Jane Doe #10.
“I was no more than a teenage prostitute. I was his slave. [He told me] I’ll bury you. I own this f****** town.” – Jane Doe #11
“Suddenly, he took his robe off and got close to me. I got up to leave, but the door was locked.” – Jane Doe #12.
“Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell not only assaulted her, but as we’re hearing from so many of these brave women here today, they stole her dreams and her livelihood.” – Annie Farmer, on behalf of her sister, Maria Farmer.
“Jeffrey is no longer here, and the women that helped him are… so they need to be held accountable, all of them.” – Theresa Helm.
“I was treated like I did not matter. I’m mad and confused he committed suicide.” – Michelle Licata, in relation to her treatment during the course of the Florida investigation into Epstein over 10 years ago.
“Please, please finish what you started. We all know he did not act alone.” – Sarah Ransome.
“It’s not about how he died, but how he lived… the reckoning must not end, it must continue. He did not act alone. We trust the government is listening and the others will be brought to justice.” – Virginia Roberts Giuffre.
“Jeffrey Epstein sexually abused me for years, robbing me of my innocence and mental health.” – Courtney Wild.
Amanda Munro, paralegal, BLM