Federal prosecutors on Monday moved to dismiss the sex-trafficking indictment against Jeffrey Epstein following his suicide in federal lockup earlier this month — but officials say they have no plans to end the probe into Epstein's alleged victims' claims, and authorities are still considering charging others accused in the alleged underage sex ring.
Epstein, 66, killed himself while locked up without bail in New York City's Metropolitan Correctional Center awaiting trial. In a letter dated Monday, Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, used the disgraced financier's suicide as the pretext for withdrawing the criminal case against Epstein.
Berman explained that, though Epstein will never stand trial, federal prosecutors remain committed "to doing [their] utmost to stand up for the victims who have already come forward, as well as for the many others who have yet to do so."
The request reiterates what Attorney General William Barr promised during a news conference last week: that the investigation is not ending into anyone who may have aided or conspired with Epstein and that Epstein's alleged victims will ultimately see justice.
Prosecutors say Epstein created and maintained a “vast network” and operation from 2002 "up to and including" at least 2005 that enabled him to “sexually exploit and abuse dozens of underage girls” in addition to paying victims to then recruit other girls. In numerous instances, victims recounted being escorted to a room with a massage table where they would perform massages on Epstein.
Among the self-identified victims are Jennifer Araoz, a 32-year-old who filed a lawsuit last week claiming associates of Epstein assisted in his alleged rape of her when she was 15, and Alicia Arden, who says she filed a police report against Epstein years ago after he allegedly groped her during what she thought was a Victoria's Secret modeling interview.
Three more alleged victims filed lawsuits on Monday night against Epstein's estate.
"We want to hold the Epstein organization to account first, it's not primarily about money," attorney Stan Pottinger, who's representing 20 Epstein accusers, said regarding the lawsuits, according to CBS News.
Court papers filed last week in the U.S. Virgin Islands indicated Epstein signed a will just two days before he killed himself. The filing of the will has been closely monitored by lawyers representing Epstein's alleged victims.
Epstein had more than $112 million worth of equities, according to the will, and nearly $200 million in "hedge funds & private equity investments." Among the properties that will be subject to appraisal and valuation are his collection of fine art, antiques and other collectibles.
As part of a 2008 plea deal on Florida state charges, Epstein made undisclosed financial settlements with dozens of his victims. It's unclear how those settlements might affect any claims made on his estate.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.