A deal regarding a fund to compensate the dozens of alleged sex-trafficking victims of Jeffrey Epstein has been reached between the late financier's estate and the attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands following an impasse.
The tentative agreement came after months of negotiations following legal action by U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Denise George to block the executors of Epstein's $600 million estate from setting up their own compensation fund with provisions she had objected to.
George said the new fund includes safeguards to protect the victims. A probate judge must now approve it.
"We are pleased that the parties have reached a resolution that allows victims the opportunity to resolve their sexual abuse claims through this independent, voluntary, non-adversarial process," read a statement from compensation program co-designers Camille S. Biros, Kenneth R. Feinberg and Jordana H. Feldman.
George opposed demands from the estate that would have required victims to sign a release that would prevent them from suing others who may have participated in Epstein's alleged abuse scheme.
The agreement reached includes several provisions, including funding to ensure that victims who have not yet come forward or are not satisfied with the monetary award can opt out without jeopardizing the chance of a court judgment, and that the estate cannot use information provided by the women to defend itself against other claims or lawsuits.
In addition, Marci Hamilton, an expert on child sex abuse, will play a key role in the fund. Attorneys for Epstein's estate initially wanted her role reduced.
"I'm hopeful the agreement will receive final approval, so these women are able to receive the help they need," George said in a statement. "My office will forcefully continue its work to hold accountable Epstein's criminal enterprise."
Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents some of Epstein's alleged victims, said her clients will consider utilizing the compensation fund if the protocols appear fair.
"However, the victims we represent have suffered significant damage as a result of their abuse by Jeffrey Epstein and even if the fund protocol may appear appropriate, we will not be able to judge if their damages will be valued appropriately unless and until we enter the compensation process," Allred said in a statement.
Epstein was accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls at his homes in New York City, Palm Beach, Fla., and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where he owned a private island. Authorities said he lured the girls onto his properties by various means and trafficked them into sexual servitude.
He was facing multiple sex-trafficking charges when he was found dead last year in his jail cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City. His death was ruled a suicide.
Daniel Weiner, a lawyer representing the estate, said the fund was the "culmination of the co-executors’ sustained, eight-month-long effort to design, develop and implement the program" that will help the victims resolve their claims in a process that "is sensitive to the experiences and concerns of claimants and treats them with compassion, dignity and respect."