Jeffery Epstein, 66, was found dead in his Manhattan jail cell on August 10th, 2019 of suspected suicide. Epstein had been accused of sexually abusing multiple women as children and was registered as a Level 3 sex offender in November 2011.
His death has ended the almost decade-long criminal case against him. Now, his lawyers have cited civil forfeiture as their way of compensating the women he allegedly sexually abused.
Under New York City forfeiture statutes, in light of his death, prosecutors on Epstein’s case can sue his estate and seize his real estate assets. This includes a large Upper East Side mansion valued at more than $56 million.
After Epstein was indicted last month on multiple charges of conspiracy and sex-trafficking, the State of New York did try to seize his Manhattan home. Sources reported that Epstein’s total net worth last month was around $559 million.
However, Epstein’s finances have always been opaque, and there has been limited documentation linking him to his abusers. Therefore, there is uncertainty regarding whether the victims will receive compensation after Epstein’s creditors are paid.
In cases of financial fraud, victim losses are usually based on documentary evidence. For Epstein’s case, the accusers must provide physical evidence or testimonies that prove physical, mental, or financial harm.
Epstein’s accusers have grown into the dozens since his case has begun. Authorities say that this number is expected to grow even more. The majority of his accusers stated that Epstein sexually abused them as children. Many of the victims claim that Epstein called on middle-school and high-school girls to give him sensual massages.
Last Wednesday, a New York State law took effect, removing the time limit for sexual-abuse victims to sue. Several accusers, via their lawyers, have stated that they are seeking damages to compensate for psychological harm.
Last Monday, Attorney General William Barr issued a warning for Epstein’s suspected accomplices, many of whom were adults who enabled his behavior towards the then-young victims. Barr has stated that the criminal investigation will proceed. “The victims deserve justice, and they will get it,” he said in a statement.
Currently, prosecutors in Manhattan are deliberating their options. “The obvious next step for criminal prosecutors is to bring civil asset forfeiture cases to recover any property that is connected to his crimes, whether it’s real estate or any vehicles used or any assets that were purchased,” stated Mathew Schwartz, an attorney who is representing multiple Epstein accusers.
Prosecutors can file forfeiture actions under the 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act. This Act was used by accusers in the sexual-abuse case against Harvey Weinstein. However, many questions remain about Epstein’s assets and victims, causing complications to the case. Only time will tell what remains of Epstein’s estate after other debts are paid.
If you or someone you know is involved in a sexual abuse case, or if you’ve been accused of sexual abuse, you should hire a lawyer. Contact us today to take the first steps towards the best possible legal outcome for you.