Lawyers: Epstein's accusers deserve justice and will go after his alleged enablers
By COLBY ITKOWITZ AND JOSHUA PARTLOW | The Washington Post | Published: August 10, 2019
Lawyers representing Jeffrey Epstein's alleged victims said Saturday that his death won't stop their clients from seeking justice from those they say enabled or conspired with Epstein to allegedly sexually abuse dozens of underage girls.
The attorneys condemned as cowardly and unfair Epstein's apparent suicide overnight while in federal prison on charges of sex trafficking.
"I guess there is somewhat an element of relief because the fear of him getting out is obviously over, but there is also, they'll never be able to look into his eye and say, 'You hurt me,' there's that element of closure that he's taken away from them," said Kimberly Lerner, an attorney for one of Epstein's accusers.
But, Lerner said, Epstein's death isn't "the end, it's just a new beginning."
"There's a whole network that enabled him and allowed this to happen and it's time that everyone who was a part of this be held accountable," she said.
Lerner's client, Jennifer Araoz, is the only accuser who released her own statement about Epstein's death. Araoz has accused Epstein of raping her in his New York City home when she was 15. She said she had been recruited outside her high school to make regular visits to his house.
"We have to live with the scars of his actions for the rest of our lives, while he will never face the consequences of the crimes he committed the pain and trauma he caused so many people," Araoz said. "Epstein is gone, but justice must still be served. I hope the authorities will pursue and prosecute his accomplices and enablers, and ensure redress for his victims."
Epstein's death came less than a day after new details about his alleged sexual abuse of underage girls were unsealed in court filings. In the documents — part of a lawsuit settled in 2017 against a woman who allegedly recruited women for Epstein — accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre named Prince Andrew, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former Senate majority leader George J. Mitchell, D-Maine, among the prominent men in Epstein's orbit she was instructed to have sex with.
All three men have denied any wrongdoing.
Guiffre's lawyer, Sigrid McCawley, said in a statement, "The reckoning of accountability begun by the voices of brave and truthful victims should not end with Jeffrey Epstein's cowardly and shameful suicide. The fact that Epstein took his own life within 24 hours of the unsealing of detailed and devastating documents and exhibits in Virginia Giuffre's lawsuit against Ghislaine Maxwell, which informed the public of the scope, scale and sophistication of the international sex trafficking operation Epstein conducted, is no coincidence," McCawley said.
Spencer Kuvin, who represents three of Epstein's accusers — a group of Royal Palm Beach High School students in Palm Beach County, Florida, when they allegedly worked for Epstein — said he spoke with one of his clients after the news of Epstein's death, and described her as "numb."
"She's numb to what occurred because of the history and she wanted for years to put this behind herself," he said. "Seeing an evil person like this ultimately end his life puts some closure on what occurred."
"She would like to see a continued prosecution and investigation into those that allowed all this to happen," he said.
Attorney Lisa Bloom, who currently represents two Epstein accusers, said she'd been helping them cooperate with law enforcement on a criminal case. Now that Epstein was dead, she said, they would be filing a civil case against his estate.
"I am calling today for the administrators of Jeffrey Epstein's estate to freeze all his assets and hold them for his victims who are filing civil cases. Their lives have been shattered by his sexual assaults, their careers derailed. They deserve full and fair compensation NOW," she tweeted. "Jeffrey Epstein's jail suicide means one thing and one thing only: consciousness of guilt."
Brad Edwards, another lawyer for accusers, said this wasn't the ending anyone hoped for because Epstein's alleged victims deserved more.
"The fact that Jeffrey Epstein was able to commit the selfish act of taking his own life as his world of abuse, exploitation, and corruption unraveled is both unfortunate and predictable," Edwards said. "The victims deserved to see Epstein held accountable, and he owed it to everyone he hurt to accept responsibility for all of the pain he caused. We will continue to represent his victims and will not stop in their pursuit of finality and justice. It is never too late to come forward with information."
The Washington Post's Sarah Ellison and Manuel Roig-Franzia contributed to this report.