Jeffrey Epstein accusers speak out in court, defense team urges probe of death

More than a dozen of Jeffrey Epstein's accusers had their day in court Tuesday afternoon -- or what amounted to it after the alleged sex trafficker's suicide earlier this month -- as U.S. District Judge Richard Berman weighed whether to officially dismiss charges against the dead disgraced financier.

Epstein's victims and their representatives implored prosecutors to go after those who conspired and enabled Epstein's alleged crimes and his defense attorneys urged further investigation of Epstein's "stunning" death in federal custody on Aug. 10.

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Several alleged sexual abuse victims described their experiences with deceased financier Jeffrey Epstein in court Tuesday.

Several alleged sexual abuse victims described their experiences with deceased financier Jeffrey Epstein in court Tuesday. (Sketch artist Christine Cornell)

Courtney Wild, who alleges that she was sexually abused by Epstein, 66, in Florida when she was 14, called him a “coward.”

“Justice has never been served in this case," she said during an emotional statement.

Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who has said she was a 15-year-old working at President Trump's Mar-a-Lago club when she was recruited to perform sex acts on Epstein, said: "My hopes were quickly dashed and my dreams were stolen."

Sarah Ransome, another victim that said she was pressured by Epstein into having sex with him when she was in her early 20s, urged prosecutors to pursue the case despite the financer’s death.

"Finish what you started...We are survivors and the pursuit of justice should not abate."

Several other victims spoke out, many of whom implicated socialite Ghislaine Maxwell as Epstein's co-conspirator.

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Maxwell, 57, allegedly provided Epstein with underage sex slaves. Court documents recently alleged that Maxwell, who is the daughter of the late, disgraced publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell, also participated in threesomes with Epstein and underage girls, according to multiple women who have come forward in the case.

She has not been charged and denied any wrongdoing.

Multiple women appeared in a New York courtroom Tuesday asking prosecutors to go after those who enabled Epstein's crimes. 

Multiple women appeared in a New York courtroom Tuesday asking prosecutors to go after those who enabled Epstein's crimes.  (Sketch artist Christine Cornell)

Sixteen women spoke in court. Some were referred to as "Jane Doe and others had their attorney read their statements.

Berman called the 66-year-old Epstein's suicide a "rather stunning turn of events."

A New York City coroner ruled that Epstein hanged himself in his cell.

One of Epstein's lawyers, Martin Weinberg, challenged that ruling during Tuesday's hearing, telling the judge that an expert hired by the defense determined that broken bones in his neck were "more consistent with pressure ... with homicide" than suicide. He urged Berman to "find out what happened to our client."

Courtney Wild described the alleged sexual abuse she endured by Epstein when she was 14.

Courtney Wild described the alleged sexual abuse she endured by Epstein when she was 14. (Sketch artist Christine Cornell)

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Prosecutors jumped in arguing that the manner of Epstein's death was "completely irrelevant to the purpose of today's proceeding." Berman, however, responded: "Well, I don't know ... I think it's fair game for defense counsel to raise its concerns."

Epstein was found unresponsive in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, N.Y., on Aug. 10, as he awaited trial on federal sex trafficking charges involving underage girls. He had been placed on suicide watch weeks earlier, on July 23, after he was found on the floor of his cell with bruises around his neck.

Fox News' Hollie McKay and The Associated Press contributed to this report.