"Haunted forever" : about 15 women described, Tuesday, August 28, the Manhattan federal court, the ordeal they claim to have suffered the financier Jeffrey Epstein, who committed suicide in prison on August 10 after being accused multiple sexual assaults on minors.
Judge Richard Berman invited the alleged victims to come to speak at an unprecedented hearing, before closing a file made obsolete by the death of the financier of 66 years: 16 women, who often spoke publicly for the first time , answered the call, taking turns speaking.
The voice sometimes suffocated by tears, they explained how this figure of the jet set, who attended personalities like Donald Trump, Bill Clinton or Prince Andrew, had "stolen" their innocence and broken their dreams. Seven other women had statements made by their lawyers in a packed courtroom.Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Jeffrey Epstein, itinerary of a sexual predator
"Today, we are united. I will not be a victim or remain silent for another day , " said actress Anouska De Georgiou, who claimed to have been sexually assaulted by the financier.
After talking, many embraced or consoled each other. Some cried while listening to the others evoke experiences sadly similar to theirs: how, while they were young and in situation often precarious, they had been "recruited" , under the pretext of harmless massages, before being forced to have sex with Jeffrey Epstein.
"I was his slave"
Chauntae Davies reported spending two weeks in the hospital "throwing up to death" after being raped by the financier. "All the public humiliations I suffered, I suffered and he won," she said.
Another woman, who asked to remain anonymous, claimed to be "haunted forever" , after having also been raped. "I was his slave. I felt disarmed and shameful, " she said, adding that Epstein had threatened to kill her if she lost her virginity.
Many of the women present expressed outrage at the suicide of Jeffrey Epstein, who caused scandal in the United States and sparked a torrent of speculation and conspiracy theories. "I am very angry and sad because justice will never be done in this case," Courtney Wild said, calling Epstein "cowardly" .
Another presumed victim, Jennifer Araoz, said that "even with his death, Jeffrey Epstein is trying to hurt us . " "The fact that I will never be able to confront my predator in court is gnawing at me," she said.
Several of Epstein's accusers said they were "recruited" by Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of British media magnate Robert Maxwell, who was briefly Epstein's partner and then a close friend. The latter has always denied such accusations. Nobody could locate it so far.Read also Epstein case: the Paris prosecutor's office opens an investigation for rape and sexual assault on minors
Most of the accusers called on prosecutors to hunt down her potential accomplices. "Please, finish what you started. American victims are ready to tell the truth. He did not act alone, " said Sarah Ransome, accusing Epstein of organizing an international sexual exploitation network.
"We must continue to do the truth and not stop there," said Virginia Giuffre, whose charges against Epstein and several other personalities, including Prince Andrew, were revealed in a series of court documents released in early August . The prince "knows exactly what he has done and I hope he will be honest," she told reporters after the hearing, while the prince vigorously denied any involvement.Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Prince Andrew in the turmoil of the Epstein affair
Federal prosecutor Maurene Comey promised them to continue the investigation. Judge Richard Berman praised "the courage" of women who emerged from silence and described suicide as "an astonishing twist of events" .
While the Ministry of Justice has opened two inquiries into the circumstances surrounding this suicide and the forensic pathologist has formally concluded a hanging suicide, Jeffrey Epstein's lawyer, Martin Weinberg, has always doubted this explanation and called the judge to open his own investigation. "We want to know deeply what happened to our client," he told the audience.
Jeffrey Epstein was arrested in early July when he returned from a trip to France. He risked forty-five years in prison if sentenced in the United States.