The executors of Jeffrey Epstein’s estate have asked a United States Virgin Islands judge for permission to establish a compensation fund, intended for those who have accused the late Epstein of sexually abusing them.
Epstein passed away in his Manhattan prison cell in August this year, with his death officially ruled a suicide. His brother rejects the official findings and has instructed his own pathologist, whose report is said to conclude that Epstein’s injuries may not have been self-inflicted.
Epstein’s assets were placed in a trust shortly before his death, with his estate said to be worth $577 million. He was due to stand trial for sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors, and had pleaded not guilty to all the charges. He had previously entered into a plea deal in 2006 for other charges of unlawful sex acts with a minor. The plea deal has since been widely criticised.
The fund is intended to be an alternative to litigation, which the executors hope will give Epstein’s accusers, “the opportunity to obtain appropriate compensation and to be heard and treated with compassion, dignity and respect”. It is hoped that this will be beneficial for the complainants, as it should provide a cheaper and speedier resolution to their claims over litigation.
The fund will be confidential and voluntary, and will be overseen by administrators who have worked on other high profile compensation funds, such as the fund devised to pay out victims of the 9/11 attacks in New York. The fund is expected to be entirely independent of the executors; it is anticipated they will not have any control over the fund’s operation.
There is no obligation to utilise the fund, and those who choose not to would still be permitted to pursue Epstein’s estate via ordinary litigation. One of the complainants lawyers was unconvinced by the executors’ proposals, stating, “[this] fund was launched without our input or consent, we will keep an open mind… the estate and the new administrators have a lot to prove”.
More than a dozen lawsuits have already been filed against Epstein, including in New York and the Virgin Islands. It is anticipated that further claims will be filed elsewhere.
Written by Amanda Munro, BLM