Following the surprise death of wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein – who was imprisoned on charges of child sex trafficking and conspiracy – accusers and their attorneys will now have to pursue justice in a new way.
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Chicago criminal defense attorney Steven Greenberg told FOX Business that while the criminal case died along with Epstein, civil suits can survive.
“I would expect a slew of new civil cases now, against his estate, provided he actually does have money, which is, I think, subject to its own speculation,” Greenberg said.
Civil suits are now easier to prove because there is no longer a defendant to deny the allegations, Greenberg added, meaning they will be effectively “unrebutted.”
Some lawyers have already indicated they will pursue suits against Epstein's estate.
Trial lawyer Lisa Bloom, who represents some of Epstein’s accusers, took to Twitter over the weekend to say that his “entire estate” should be given to his victims, now that it is “the only justice they can get.”
As Greenberg suggested, not too much is known about Epstein's finances.
His estate is believed to be valued at more than $500 million. It includes a $77 million 40-room New York mansion, an island, a New Mexico ranch, in addition to homes in Paris and Palm Beach, as reported by Bloomberg.
It is not yet known whether he left a will.
The financier was found unconscious in his cell and later pronounced dead over the weekend. Correctional officers reportedly did not check on Epstein for hours leading up to his death, despite the fact that they were supposed to do so every 30 minutes.
An autopsy was performed, but the cause of death has not yet been officially determined.
A union representative told Fox News on Monday that Epstein’s death was the direct result of understaffing at prisons. Two of the staff members who were watching a unit of inmates – including Epstein – were working overtime, the union said.
The FBI and Justice Department’s inspector general office are investigating the death.
Epstein was found unconscious last month with bruises on his neck – but was taken off of suicide watch.
If convicted, he faced as many as 45 years in jail.
Previously, the financier served 13 months in prison for solicitation charges, out of an 18-month sentence. Former U.S. Labor Secretary Alex Acosta – who was a U.S. attorney in Florida at the time – helped negotiate his plea deal. He resigned from his post within the Trump administration last month amid fierce scrutiny related to the 2008 Epstein case.