A magistrate judge has approved the terms of a deal between the Justice Department and lawyers representing the estate of the late Jeffrey Epstein.
An order issued by Superior Court Magistrate Carolyn Hermon-Purcell clears the way for the establishment of a victim’s compensation program for those claiming sexual abuse at the hands of Epstein and his associates.
Justice officials, led by Attorney General Denise George, expressed satisfaction with the magistrate’s June 2 order. In a statement issued the following day, George said the agreement opened the way for a “substantial improvement from the original victim’s claim fund proposed by the estate.”
Hermon-Purcell’s order grants the adoption of an expanded motion for the establishment of a voluntary claims resolution program. It also authorizes co-executors of Epstein’s estate to begin processing claims as of June 15.
The agreement in principle allows for a nationally recognized child sex abuse expert to play a role in the process of reviewing victim compensation claims. It eliminates a provision executors of the estate wanted that would require claimants with valid claims to waive their right to pursue other claims against Epstein associates.
It also assures that sufficient funds will be set aside to compensate those sex abuse victims who decide to come forward years from now. Also included, a provision allowing claimants to opt-out of the process if they don’t agree with the terms or the size of the award without sacrificing the chance of making future claims.
In a statement issued on June 3, a spokesperson for George called the program approved by the court an improvement.
“The Attorney General’s Office reached an agreement in principle for a victim’s compensation program with the Epstein Estate counsel and victim’s counsel. The agreement includes safeguards that U.S. Virgin Islands’ Attorney General Denise N. George insisted be included,” said Sandra Goomansingh, media relations director of the V.I. Department of Justice.
Epstein, a convicted pedophile, was 66 when he was found dead in a federal jail cell in August, a few days after he was arrested on sex trafficking charges. At the time of his death, he was a Virgin Islands businessman and property owner. Setting up a fund to compensate those with legitimate claims against the estate is part of the will signed by Epstein two days before his death by apparent suicide.
The will also declared the deceased to be a V.I. resident. That statement led the matter to the Probate Division of Superior Court. Officials at Justice began negotiations over the terms of the fund when formal hearings over the will began Feb. 4. At the time George expressed concern that the proposed settlement process did not comport with Virgin Islands law.