One by one, women told a packed federal courtroom in Manhattan on Tuesday how Jeffrey Epstein had sexually abused them and used his power and wealth to silence them, sometimes for years. For many, it was their first time speaking about it in public, The New York Times reports.
Nearly two dozen accusers shared their accounts with Judge Richard M. Berman at a hearing called after federal prosecutors said they planned to drop the sex trafficking charges against Epstein in light of his death — a decision that requires a judge’s approval. At the judge’s invitation, the rows of women in the gallery on Tuesday stood and formed a line leading into the well of the packed courtroom, some clasping each other’s hands and whispering words of encouragement. For more than an hour, they took turns describing their trauma and voicing their anger that Epstein had avoided accountability for decades. Some women spoke anonymously; some through lawyers. Sixteen of them spoke in person, many with shaky voices, trembling hands and tears.