Today marks the beginning of a compensation fund for victims of accused sex offender, Jeffrey Epsetin. The plan has been in the works for months by Epstein's lawyers. As a resident of the Virgin Islands, not everyone in the Virgin Islands is thrilled to have this case associated with the U.S. territory. Denise N. George, Attorney General for the U.S. Virgin Islands, did not approve the compensation fund until several safeguards were included. After much back and forth and a near impasse, victims can begin processing claims today.
Who Was Jeffrey Epstein?
Epstein was a well-known businessman and property owner for the likes of Manhattan, South Florida, and the Virgin Islands. He was arrested last year on sex trafficking charges, including those against minors. He was found dead by an apparent suicide in a guarded housing unit days after his arrest. As victims continue to come forward, their ages sink as low as 14 years old. Days before his death, he finalized a will in the Virgin Islands for his estate that values at over $600 million. The will also included a plan for victim compensation.
What Safeguards are Included in the Compensation Fund?
Those in charge of Epstein's estate initially tried to include elements to the compensation fund that would protect others from being accused of participating in the sex trafficking ring. However, Attorney General George fought the compensation fund until it included the following safeguards to protect the victims:
- Victims are also allowed to pursue claims against Epstein associates
- Funds will be set aside for victims who come forward in the future
- Claimants can opt-out if they do not agree with the settlement
- Opting-out does not ruin your chance of filing another claim in the future
- In exchange, victims will relinquish all claims against the Epstein Estate
What is the Protocol for Filing a Compensation Claim?
- Victim submits a claim to administrator Jordana Feldmen
- Feldmen reviews the application
- Marci Hamilton, a nationally recognized child sex abuse expert, also reviews the application
- Feldmen makes a settlement offer
- Victim has the opportunity to accept or decline the offer
More than three dozen women have come forward to speak out about their abuse at the hands of Epsetin and his associates. As more are expected to come forward, the case is being treated carefully with experts in major compensation funds like Kenneth R. Feinberg and Jordana Feldmen who both worked on the compensation fund for the victims of September 11th. Camille S. Biros is also working on this case, and she offers experience from designing the compensation fund for victims of the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal. The fund administrators of this high-profile case have stated they are “pleased that the parties have reached a resolution that allows victims the opportunity to resolve their sexual abuse claims through this independent, voluntary, non-adversarial process”.