The executors of Jeffrey Epstein’s estate are attempting to settle sexual abuse claims in a “confidential and non-adversarial” way. Epstein’s long-serving lawyers Darren K. Indyke and Richard D. Kahn filed court documents this week in the Superior Court of the U.S. Virgin Islands, seeking approval of a victims’ compensation fund as an alternative to litigation.
Notably, the U.S. Virgin Islands was where Epstein’s will was signed just two days before the convicted sex offender and accused child sex-trafficker’s controversial death behind bars.
A group of individuals dubbed “distinguished, independent claims administration experts” (one of them, Jordana H. Feldman, Deputy Special Master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund) will “draft the program protocol and will afford interested parties, including potential claimants and/or their legal representatives, an opportunity to provide input on the protocol prior to its finalization,” according to a Thursday press release obtained by Law&Crime. If the Court approves the victims’ compensation fund as anticipated, claims may be accepted around 90 days from now.
Feldman and Kenneth R. Feinberg, both of them lawyers, and Camille S. Biros, a longtime associate of Feinberg’s with experience administrating funds like these, each offered responses regarding the program.
Feldman promised that the process would be “fair, prompt, and non-adversarial, and will provide victims with a meaningful alternative to years of protracted civil litigation and its associated costs, risks and uncertainties.” She also said victims would be treated with the “compassion, dignity and respect they deserve.”
Feinberg said, “We are pleased to have been asked to implement this important program, and are eager to begin designing it so that claimants will have a forum where their suffering is acknowledged and their claims are promptly and appropriately compensated.”
Biros, for her part, said “participation in the program will be entirely voluntary, and will not affect any rights the claimant may have unless and until she accepts the compensation determination and signs a litigation release.”
The New York Times caught wind of the court filing on Wednesday and got responses from attorneys representing Epstein victims. Attorney Roberta Kaplan minced no words about the Epstein estate’s move. “In fact, it feels very much like a continuation of his crimes and abuse after his death,” she said, claiming that Epstein’s estate didn’t discuss the compensation fund plan before going to court.
“Settlement, after all, is a two-way street,” she said.
“We have said all along that any settlement process here needs to involve two steps, an accurate accounting of all of Jeffrey Epstein’s assets; and a fair process for survivors to make claims,” Kaplan said in a statement to Law&Crime. “Given that this latest fund was launched without our input or consent, we will keep an open mind because we are supportive of attempts to fairly compensate these survivors, but both the Estate and the new administrators have a lot to prove.”
Bradley Edwards would add that his client “does not believe that the use of any alternative dispute resolution should stay or modify the course of litigation in this matter.”
Jennifer Araoz came forward in July and accused Epstein of rape. Her attorney, Daniel Kaiser, also released a statement about the compensation fund.
“Jennifer is supportive of all efforts to insure Epstein victims are adequately compensated for their terrible victimization at the hands of Jeffrey Epstein. Each victim, however, must make an individual decision as to how to best pursue legal remedies for their injuries,” Kaiser said in a statement obtained by Law&Crime. “Jennifer has decided that the best legal course of action for her is her court action filed in New York State court as a result of the fact that she still has a current claim under the Child’s Victims Act.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated after publication with additional statements from attorneys.
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