Epstein estate to be sued by sex abuse victims

Epstein estate to be sued by sex abuse victims

Lawyers for several women who say they were sexually abused by financier Jeffrey Epstein will file civil lawsuits against his estate, following his apparent suicide in New York on Saturday.

Mr Epstein, 66, was found dead at 7:30 am (local time) in his New York federal jail cell, where he was awaiting trial for sex trafficking offences.

Los Angeles-based attorney Lisa Bloom, who represents two women, said her clients had held off suing while federal prosecutors pursued criminal charges but would now “promptly file those civil claims”.

New York-based attorney Roberta Kaplan said her client hopes to file on Wednesday to take advantage of the new Child Victims Act, which takes effect on 14 August and makes it possible to pursue decades-old claims of abuse.

Ms Kaplan said the lack of a criminal conviction made it difficult to secure a favourable outcome in a civil suit.

“If he’d been convicted of a crime, you don’t have to prove much in a civil case,” she said.

New York attorney Paul Callan said Mr Epstein’s death will “unleash an avalanche of civil suits” against his $559 million estate, but said getting the money may be difficult.

“I would suspect that Epstein has found a way to shelter a lot of his assets so the litigants here may face the same problem,” he said. “They may get a judgment, but they may have trouble collecting it.”

Dr Barbara Sampson, New York City’s chief medical examiner, is reportedly confident that Mr Epstein hanged himself in his jail cell, but is awaiting more information before releasing a determination.

His death in custody is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice’s Inspector General.

Last month he was found unconscious on the floor of his cell and was placed on suicide watch. However, he was no longer on suicide watch at the time of his death.

Investigations into his conduct will continue despite his death, authorities have confirmed.

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