U.S. District Judge Richard Berman officially ordered on Aug. 29 the dismissal of the criminal sex trafficking case against financier Jeffrey Epstein in wake of his death, according to court documents.
Berman signed a “nolle prosequi” ruling, a legal term signifying the formal abandonment of charges. Epstein was found dead in his Manhattan cell on Aug. 10 while awaiting trial, and the New York City Medical Examiner’s office ruled his death a suicide by hanging.
“Because JEFFREY EPSTEIN, the defendant, died while this case was pending, and therefore before a final judgment was issued, the Indictment must be dismissed under the rule of abatement,” court documents stated.
Although the case against Epstein has been dismissed, the criminal investigation into sex trafficking and conspiracy accusations against Epstein will continue, according to Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman. Following Epstein’s death, federal prosecutors gave particular emphasis to investigating Epstein’s conspiracy count.
“To those brave young women who have already come forward and to the many others who have yet to do so, let me reiterate that we remain committed to standing for you, and our investigation of the conduct charged in the Indictment—which included a conspiracy count—remains ongoing,” U.S. Attorney Berman said in a previous statement.
One of Epstein’s lawyers, Martin Weinberg, didn’t respond to a request for comment from The Epoch Times.
Attorney General William Barr has also vowed to go after any co-conspirators in the case. During a police conference in New Orleans earlier in August, Barr said he was dismayed by Epstein’s death inside the Metropolitan Correctional Center’s Special Housing Unit and said the case would continue.
“I was appalled, and indeed the whole Department was, and frankly angry to learn of the MCC’s failure to adequately secure this prisoner,” he said at the time. “We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation.”
“Let me assure you that this case will continue on against anyone who was complicit with Epstein,” Barr continued. “Any co-conspirators should not rest easy. The victims deserve justice and they will get it.”
Berman’s latest action granted federal prosecutors’ request to drop the charges. The judge’s dismissal of the case was widely anticipated.
The ruling comes after an out-of-the-ordinary hearing on Aug. 27 at which Epstein’s accusers, speaking one after another, often through tears and trembling voices, testified about their reactions to his death and spoke about how they were recruited into his alleged trafficking ring.
Epstein’s death also brought more attention into his controversial 2008 ruling, in which he faced similar accusations of sexually assaulting women and minors. The financier pleaded guilty in Florida at the time to state charges of soliciting a child for prostitution under a non-prosecution agreement that required him to spend 13 months in jail and register as a sex offender.
The agreement has been condemned for ending a broad federal child sex abuse probe involving at least 40 teenage girls, which could have landed Epstein in jail for life.
Some of the accusers at the hearing earlier this week lamented about how the justice system failed them in 2008. Courtney Wild, an accuser who used her real name, testified about being sexually abused by Epstein for years.
“Justice has never been served in this case,” Wild told the court.