The federal judge who was overseeing the case against convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein has dropped all charges regarding allegations of sex trafficking and abuse of underage women.
The Washington Examiner reports U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman signed the nolle prosequi dismissal order due to Epstein’s death. The order was initially filed by prosecutors shortly after Epstein was found dead in his Metropolitan Correctional Center prison cell on August 10. It was later ruled by a medical examiner that Epstein died by suicide.
The report adds:
Today’s order stated that because Epstein “died while this case was pending, and therefore before a final judgment was issued, the Indictment must be dismissed under the rule of abatement.” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, who made the dismissal request a week ago, made it clear that his office “remains committed to doing its 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.”
When Judge Berman ordered the hearing last week, he said that “at the hearing, counsel for the government and for the deceased defendant, Jeffrey Epstein, will be heard” and that “counsel for the victims and the victims will also be heard, if they wish to be.”
According to the report, Assistant U.S. Attorney Maurene Comey clarified the ruling would not stop or prohibit Department of Justice officials from investigating potential co-conspirators involved in the alleged nefarious activities.
“To be very clear, dismissal of this indictment as to Jeffrey Epstein in no way prohibits or inhibits the government’s ongoing investigation into other potential co-conspirators,” Comey said per the report. “Nor does it prevent the bringing of a new case in the future or the prosecution of new defendants.”
Epstein, a wealthy 66-year-old money manager who once counted U.S. President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton and Britain’s Prince Andrew as friends, was arrested on July 6 and pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges involving dozens of girls as young as 14.
Epstein’s lawyers said at Tuesday’s hearing that they had doubts about the examiner’s conclusion. The FBI is examining two cameras that were outside the cell that malfunctioned, a law enforcement source has told Reuters.
A source earlier told Reuters two jail guards had failed to follow a procedure overnight to make separate checks on all prisoners every 30 minutes.
Tuesday’s hearing featured emotional testimony from 16 women who said Epstein had abused them, many of whom lamented that he would never face justice in court.