Alleged victim of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein Jennifer Araoz (C) exits Manhattan Federal Court on Tuesday. Photo by Louis Lanzano/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 27 (UPI) -- Many of Jeffrey Epstein's accusers appeared in New York court Tuesday to express anger and frustration they didn't get a chance to confront the billionaire on sexual misconduct charges before he killed himself.
Dozens of women spoke at the invitation of U.S. District Judge Richard Berman, who declined to immediately issue a ruling on prosecutors' request to drop charges for the politically connected Epstein.
Accuser Courtney Wild said Tuesday that Epstein stole her chance to challenge him in court when he killed himself in jail Aug. 10.
"For that, he is a coward," she said in court. "I feel very angry and sad. Justice has never been served in this case."
Chauntae Davies accused Epstein of raping her after she was recruited to be his masseuse.
"It took me a long time to come forward," she said. "Every public humiliation that I endured, I have suffered and he has won. ... I have found my voice now. I will not stop fighting."
Anouska De Georgiou said she'd hoped to testify in support of other victims.
"I am every girl he did this to, and they are all me," she said. "And today we stand together."
Berman scheduled the hearing as a matter of public interest, to provide insight into the case against Epstein -- which said he made coordinated efforts for a number of years to exploit and recruit young girls for sexual purposes.
"The public may still have an informational interest in the process by which the prosecutor seeks dismissal of indictment," Berman said. "The court believes that where, as here, a defendant has died before any judgment has been entered against him, the public may still have an informational interest in the process by which the prosecutor seeks dismissal of an indictment."
Epstein, 66, was arrested last month as part of a joint New York City Police Department-FBI investigation and he was charged with one count each of sex trafficking and conspiracy. He pleaded not guilty.
Attorney Bradley Edwards, who represents some of Epstein's accusers, called the hearing "a historic day for crime victims in the United States."
"This case has ended in the most unfortunate way, marking layers of tragedy," he told NBC News. "However, this hearing has great significance. While it does not provide complete closure, it solidifies the fact that victims are an integral part of the process."
"Our hope is that the Department of Justice continues its investigation against all of the co-conspirators and that this is merely the beginning, and not the end, of the prosecutions," attorney Spencer Kuvin added.
Survivor Sarah Ransome urged the prosecution to "finish what you have started."
"We all know he did not act alone. We are survivors and the pursuit of justice should not abate," she added.
During the hearing, Epstein's lawyers called for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding their client's death. Lawyer Martin Weinberg said that though Epstein's neck injuries could have been the result of suicide by hanging, they also could have been caused in a homicide.
He asked Berman to delay a dismissal of the charges.
The millionaire financier, who was forced to register as a sex offender in Florida for a separate 2008 conviction, was accused of giving girls "hundreds of dollars in cash" to engage in sexual acts at his mansions in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Fla., and sometimes paid victims to recruit victims. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York said the reported incidents occurred between 2002 and 2005.
Although Epstein is dead, many of his accusers are still seeking some form of justice, in either criminal or civil court.
Federal prosecutors filed a motion last week to have Epstein's case dismissed due to his death, but added it "remains committed to doing its utmost to stand up for the victims who have already come forward, as well as for the many others who have yet to do so."
Since the millionaire's suicide, three more women have filed suits against his estate.