Women who accused Jeffrey Epstein of sexually assaulting them as teenagers can begin filing claims and collecting compensation from his estate, valued at more than $600 million.
The compensation fund has opened after months of back-and-forth between the estate and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Epstein owned property and took many of the girls he was accused of assaulting. The final hurdle was cleared with an agreement to protect the women’s rights and privacy
Virgin Islands Attorney General Denise George blocked an earlier proposal by Epstein’s estate, questioning its demand that those who received money from the fund agree to a broad liability waiver. An accord was reached in May after Epstein’s estate agreed not to use information the victims provided to defend itself against any other claims or suits that might be filed against it. A judge in the Virgin Islands approved it this month.
Epstein killed himself in detention last August after his arrest on federal sex-trafficking charges.
“The program provides victims of Jeffrey Epstein the opportunity to be heard outside the glare of the public courtroom proceedings and to receive acknowledgment by an independent third party as to the legitimacy of their experience and the long-term suffering it has wrought,” Jordana Feldman, the fund’s administrator, said at a news conference Thursday.
The compensation program, which worked with George and lawyers representing more than 70 accusers, was designed by Feldman, Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros. Feinberg and Feldman oversaw the compensation fund for people who became sick or died because of the September 2001 terrorist attacks, while Feinberg and Biros designed and administered a fund for sexual abuse claims against the Catholic Church.
More than three dozen women have filed lawsuits in federal and state courts seeking damages from Epstein’s estate. Lawyers for many of the women have said in court filings that their clients would consider participating in a compensation fund if it protected their privacy and was administered fairly.
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