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What Happens Now To The Sex-Trafficking Probe After Jeffrey Epstein's Death?

Legal analysts believe federal prosecutors will be feeling more pressure than ever to investigate others accused of helping Epstein lure young girls to his homes for sex, while many of his accusers could turn to the civil court system for justice.

By Jill Sederstrom
Alleged Victims Speak At Epstein Sex Trafficking Hearing

Jeffrey Epstein’s shocking death in jail means the wealthy hedge fund manager will never have to face his accusers in the underage sex trafficking case against him in court—but there are still other avenues prosecutors and the millionaire’s alleged victims can pursue.

Epstein’s death now puts new focus and pressure on those who allegedly helped the millionaire recruit underage women in New York and Florida for sex trafficking, according to The Wall Street Journal. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have vowed to continue to seek justice for the victims.

Geoffrey S. Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement Saturday that the investigation into the allegations “remains ongoing” despite the Epstein’s death, according to National Public Radio and legal analysts say it likely puts increased pressure to hold others associated with the allegations accountable.

“The prosecutors have said that they’re continuing to investigate. Now, they didn’t bring charges against any of the co-conspirators when they did charge Epstein, so I’m not sure how likely it will be,” former federal prosecutor and Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson said. “But there’s a lot of pressure on them now, given that Epstein’s gone, to find out who else was involved and whether they can be criminally charged.”

It’s not clear what direction the investigation could take; however, documents released late last week from a prior lawsuit make allegations that Ghislaine Maxwell—Epstein’s former girlfriend––helped recruit underage girls for Epstein and trained the young girls for sex. The documents were part of a defamation suit filed by alleged victim Virginia Giuffre.

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell

Maxwell denied any accusations of wrongdoing during the civil suits.

"The big target is a woman named Ghislaine Maxwell," CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman said on “CBS This Morning.” "She is someone who was Jeffrey Epstein's girlfriend, but many of the victims have accused her of actually being a procurer who has been someone who was in the thick of it, who managed all of these properties, so she really has a bull's eye on her."

In addition to the possibility of charges being filed against those associated with Epstein, alleged victims will also be able to seek justice through the civil court system.

“So what the first move is by many of these very, very good and assertive lawyers or aggressive lawyers is that they will then freeze the assets in the estate so that they cannot be dispersed by the executor to the heirs or to charities, whatever Jeffrey Epstein may have left them to in a will if he left a will,” Klieman said.

Lisa Bloom, an attorney for several of the women, called for administrators to “freeze” the millionaire’s assets in a post on Twitter Saturday.

“Our civil cases can still proceed against his estate. Victims deserve to be made whole for the lifelong damage he caused. We’re just getting started,” she said.

But while Epstein’s alleged victims may have some recourse even in his death, some have voiced frustration that Epstein died while in federal custody at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a jail with a reputation as being one of the most secure and was once home for Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín Guzmán Loera, known as “El Chapo.”  

“I will never have a sense of closure now. And I am angry as hell that the prison could have allowed this to happen and that I and his other victims will never see him face the consequences for his horrendous actions,” one victim said in a statement, according to Bloom.

Miami Herald investigative reporter Julie Brown—who drew new attention to the case during a series of articles that shared the stories of more than a dozen accusers––told “CBS This Morning” that many of the women were still “in shock.”

“They think it’s another example of how our criminal justice system is not only broken, but it seems to favor wealthy people who somehow seem to always be able to get away with things that regular people don’t have those advantages,” she said.