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          性侵幼女富翁獄中自殺,民事索賠之戰才剛剛開展

          Terry Collins 2019年08月18日

          自殺不意味著一了百了,受害者仍然可能討回更多公道。

          近日,身陷性陷丑聞的美國億萬富翁杰弗里·愛潑斯坦在獄中自殺身亡。這意味著此案的受害者們不會再有與愛潑斯坦當庭對質的一天了,但這并不意味著愛潑斯坦就這么簡單地一死了之了,也不意味著受害者們無法討回更多公道了。

          不過據曾經擔任聯邦和紐約州檢察官的埃利·霍尼格表示,愛潑斯坦的死,雖然宣告針對他的刑事案件基本上可以結案了,但檢方依然可以針對他的數億美元遺產提起刑事附帶民事追訴。

          “只要(檢察官)可以讓法官相信,他們有充分證據證實自己的主張。”霍尼格說。霍尼格曾經擔任紐約南區助理聯邦檢察官,此次負責公訴愛潑斯坦一案的,正是他曾經所在的部門。

          霍尼格目前擔任CNN的法律分析師。他表示,如果愛潑斯坦之死被查明確系自殺,那么反而會更加讓法官確信,受害者們的主張是站得住腳的。

          愛潑斯坦死前被羈押在曼哈頓大都會懲教中心等候審判,8月10日,獄方發現他對外界刺激失去了反應。此前,獄方已經對他采取了防自殺措施,他的監室里還有一名室友,獄警每半個小時就要來他的監室巡查一次。然而蹊蹺的是,據媒體報道,在愛潑斯坦死前的一周,獄警并未按照規定頻繁來監室巡查。

          前加州圣克拉拉縣地方檢察官史蒂文·克拉克認為:“隨著案情的公開,各種民事訴訟也被提上了日程。由于可能面臨很長的刑期,加上還要面對公眾的羞辱,愛潑斯坦先生可能感到未來非常黯淡。他已經習慣了某種特定的生活方式,隨著牢獄之災越來越近,他已經沒有退路了。”

          上個月,面臨一起與未成年人進行性交易以及另一起策劃與未成年人進行性交易的指控,愛潑斯坦堅稱自己無罪。檢察官稱,2001年至2005年間,愛潑斯坦曾經在紐約上東區的豪宅和佛羅里達州棕櫚灘的一處住宅中多次買春,那些女孩中最年輕的只有14歲。

          如果這兩項罪名都成立,愛潑斯坦將面臨最高45年的監禁。美國司法部部長威廉·巴爾表示,愛潑斯坦雖然死了,但他的共犯們并不會逃脫法律的制裁。愛潑斯坦喪命的懲教中心正是美國司法部管理下的一處羈押場所。

          8月10日,巴爾對記者們表示:“我向你們保證,此案將繼續調查任何與愛潑斯坦共謀的人。任何一個共犯都不應該覺得自己逃過一劫,受害者們必須獲得公道,她們也必將得到公道。”

          在本案中,一個叫吉絲蓮·麥克斯韋爾的名字反復出現。根據法庭文件,此人是英國的一個社會名流,是愛潑斯坦的老朋友之一,而且經常將未成年女孩介紹給愛潑斯坦。據《邁阿密先驅報》報道,在最近公布的一起訴訟中,麥克斯韋爾否認了她替愛潑斯坦與年輕女孩“拉皮條”的指控。

          在談到他的前同事,也就是紐約的檢察官們時,霍尼格表示:“在將其他共犯繩之以法之前,南區檢察官們絕對不會松懈下來。”

          前聯邦檢察官、洛杉磯洛約拉法學院教授勞里·萊文森表示,隨著愛潑斯坦的突然死亡,要想查明還有誰牽涉此案,是很不容易的,檢察官們身上也承擔了很大的壓力。

          萊文森指出,即便此案的刑事追訴部分已經結案了,受害者們也可以對愛潑斯坦的遺產提出民事追訴。“在民事案件中,舉證責任較輕。”他補充道。

          紐約南區前聯邦檢察官克里·勞倫斯則表示,雖然愛潑斯坦本人“可能不再會跟此案有什么關系了,但他的影響可能還會波及以后好幾年。”

          愛潑斯坦案兩名原告的律師麗莎·布魯姆表示,她仍然計劃根據8月14日紐約州生效的《兒童受害者法案》提起訴訟。根據該法案的一項特別條款,從2020年2月起,在一年的時間里,任何兒童性侵事件的成年幸存者起訴施暴者或是存在過失的機構,不論性侵行為發生在多久以前。

          布魯姆8月10日還在推特上發了好幾條帖子,其中一條要求“凍結愛潑斯坦的所有財產”,以便為那些正在提起民事訴訟的受害者進行賠償。

          “她們的生活因為他的性侵行為而破碎了,她們的事業也脫離了正軌,她們現在應該獲得充分的、公平的補償……”她還表示:“施暴者杰弗里·愛潑斯坦自殺了,我和我代表的受害者們很希望他能夠活著接受法律制裁……受害者理應為他造成的終身傷害得到補償。我們才剛剛開始。”

          8月12日,布魯姆并未立即回應我們的置評請求。

          法學教授萊文森表示,愛潑斯坦遺產的執行人可能是他的家人、商業伙伴或者律師,他們很可能得“做好深呼吸”,評估當前可能面臨的訴訟,看看自己可以就其中的哪些在法庭進行辯護。

          “我不知道如果為所有這些指控辯護,對他們是不是有很多好處。他們可能有很多動力,去解決其中的大多數訴訟。不管怎樣,這對他們都是一場艱苦的戰斗。”她說。

          我們目前還不知道愛潑斯坦死前是否留下了遺囑,愛潑斯坦的遺產總額也依然是個謎。不過辦理此案的聯邦檢察官們表示,愛潑斯坦在曼哈頓擁有一幢8層豪宅,價值7700萬美元,他的很多性侵行為就是在這里進行的。此外他還在美屬維爾京群島有一個小島,在墨西哥有一座農場,在棕櫚灘和巴黎也各有一處房產。

          另據聯邦檢察官上個月在法庭文件中稱,愛潑斯坦的凈資產據稱在5億美元以上。

          霍尼格也補充道:“現在還遠遠沒有結束。”(財富中文網)

          譯者:樸成奎

          While Jeffrey Epstein’s death by apparent suicide means his alleged victims won’t have their day in court with him on federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges, they—and the authorities—may still get some justice.

          By most accounts, Epstein’s death essentially ends the criminal case against him. But prosecutors can take civil forfeiture action against his estate presumably worth hundreds of millions, says former federal and state prosecutor Elie Honig.

          “If (prosecutors) can get a judge to hear that they have a preponderance of the evidence, that could work in their favor,” said Honig, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the same office that charged Epstein.

          Honig, currently a legal analyst for CNN, said Epstein’s suicide, if it is ruled as such, could actually help convince a judge that the victim’s claims have merit.

          Epstein was found unresponsive in his jail cell on August 10 while he was awaiting trial at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. The multimillionaire financier was previously on suicide watch where he would be roomed with a cellmate and have prison staff check on him every half-hour. But, for more than a week leading up to Epstein’s death, those frequent checks reportedly weren’t occurring.

          “The future looked very bleak for Mr. Epstein due to the disclosures and possible civil suits as he was potentially facing a significant jail sentence and public humiliation,” said Steven Clark, a former district attorney in Santa Clara County, California. “(Epstein) was used to a certain lifestyle and the walls were closing in and he apparently had no exit strategy.”

          Last month, Epstein pleaded not guilty to one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. Prosecutors claim Epstein paid girls as young as 14 to participate in sex acts from 2001 to 2005 his luxurious Upper East Side mansion and a home in Palm Beach, Florida.

          He faced a maximum sentence of 45 years in prison if convicted of both counts. Now, many of Epstein’s accomplices may face the wrath, said Attorney General William Barr, whose Department of Justice is in charge of the jail where Epstein died.

          “Let me assure you that this case will continue on against anyone who is complicit with Epstein,” Barr told reporters on August 10. “Any co-conspirators should not rest easy. The victims deserve justice and they will get it.”

          One name that continues to pop up is Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite who is one of Epstein’s longtime friends and who is accused in court filings of helping bring underage girls to Epstein. According to the Miami Herald, in a lawsuit that was recently unsealed, Maxwell denied allegations she assisted Epstein with meeting young women.

          Honig said about his former legal colleagues in New York, “The Southern District will not rest easy until they bring the other conspirators to justice.”

          There will be a lot of pressure on prosecutors especially now with Epstein’s death to find out who else was involved, said Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor, and a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

          Even with the criminal case closed, Epstein’s accusers will have the option of seeking civil cases against his estate, Levenson added. “The burden of proof is less in civil cases,” Levenson added.

          Kerry Lawrence, a New York state-based former federal prosecutor who also worked in the Southern District of New York, said, while Epstein “may no longer have any involvement, his legacy will live on actively for the next several years.”

          Meanwhile, Lisa Bloom, an attorney for two of Epstein’s accusers, said she plans to file lawsuits under the “Child Victims Act,” which takes effect on Aug. 14 in New York. One unique stipulation with the state law is starting in February 2020, there will be a one-year period when any adult survivors of child sexual abuse could sue an abuser or a negligent institution no matter how long ago the alleged abuse occurred.

          Bloom also posted several tweets on Twitter on August 10, including one demanding that Epstein’s estate “freeze all his assets” and hold them for his victims who are filing civil cases.

          “Their lives have been shattered by his sexual assaults, their careers derailed. They deserve full and fair compensation NOW,” she said. “Predator Jeffrey Epstein killed himself. On behalf of the victims I represent, we would have preferred he lived to face justice...Victims deserve to be made whole for the lifelong damage he caused. We’re just getting started.”

          Bloom did not immediately return a request for further comment on August 12.

          Levenson, the law professor, said that executors of Epstein’s estate, which could be a family member, business associate or lawyers, will likely “take a deep breath,” to review what the potential lawsuits heading its way and if any can be defended in court.

          “I don’t know if there’s a lot of profit in defending all of them. There may be a lot of incentive to resolve most of them,” she said. “Either way, it will definitely be an uphill battle for them.”

          It is not immediately known if Epstein had a will. And, the exact size of Epstein’s estate also remains a mystery, but federal prosecutors said the estate includes the luxurious $77 million eight-story manse in Manhattan, where he allegedly ran his trafficking ring, an island in the U.S. Virgin Islands, a ranch in New Mexico and the property in Palm Beach and another in Paris.

          Epstein also reportedly had a net worth of more than $500 million, federal prosecutors said in court documents last month.

          Honig adds, “This is far from over.”

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