Jeffrey Epstein's accusers talk about his alleged abuse and 'strategic' approach

Alleged victims of accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself this month in his federal jail cell, shared their stories Tuesday in a Manhattan courtroom.

Courtney Wild said Epstein sexually abused her for years.

His suicide "robbed" victims of the chance "to confront him one by one" in court, said Wild, the first accuser to speak at the hearing. "For that, he is a coward."

Another woman said Epstein was "strategic in how he approached us."

"Each of us has a different story and different circumstances as to why we stayed in it," the woman, identified in court only as Jane Doe 2, said. "It was like the analogy where the frog is in the pot and the heat goes up over time."

Close to 30 women are expected to speak at the hearing.

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NEW YORK, NY - JULY 08: US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman announces charges against Jeffery Epstein on July 8, 2019 in New York City. Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 08: US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman announces charges against billionaire financier Jeffery Epstein on July 8, 2019 in New York City. Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 08: Two of the purported victims of multi-millionaire Jeffrey Epstein, Michelle Licata (L) and Courtney Wild leave a Manhattan court house after a hearing on sex trafficking charges for financier Jeffrey Epstein on July 08, 2019 in New York City. Epstein is charged with having operated a sex trafficking ring in which he sexually abused dozens of underage girls. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 08: Two of Jeffrey Epstein's alleged victims, Michelle Licata (L) and Courtney Wild (R), exit the courthouse after the billionaire financier appeared for a hearing on July 8, 2019 in New York City. According to reports, Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
In this courtroom artist's sketch, defendant Jeffrey Epstein, center, sits with attorneys Martin Weinberg, left, and Marc Fernich during his arraignment in New York federal court, Monday, July 8, 2019. Epstein pleaded not guilty to federal sex trafficking charges. The 66-year-old is accused of creating and maintaining a network that allowed him to sexually exploit and abuse dozens of underage girls from 2002 to 2005. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)
NEW YORK, US - JULY 08: David Boies, attorney for the alleged sex victims of the US financier Jeffreey Epstein case, delivers a speech to the media outside the United States Federal Court on July 08, 2019 in New York, United States. (Photo by Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 08: A residence belonging to Jeffrey Epstein at East 71st street is seen on the Upper East Side of Manhattan on July 8, 2019 in New York City. According to reports, Epstein is charged with running a sex-trafficking operation out of his opulent mansion. (Photo by Kevin Hagen/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 08: Prosecutors exit the room after US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman announces charges against Jeffery Epstein on July 8, 2019 in New York City. Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 08: Member of the press listen as US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman announces charges against Jeffery Epstein on July 8, 2019 in New York City. Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 08: A protest group called "Hot Mess" hold up signs of Jeffrey Epstein and President Donald Trump in front of the Federal courthouse on July 8, 2019 in New York City. According to reports, Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman speaks during a news conference, in New York, Monday, July 8, 2019. Federal prosecutors announced sex trafficking and conspiracy charges against wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein. Court documents unsealed Monday show Epstein is charged with creating and maintaining a network that allowed him to sexually exploit and abuse dozens of underage girls.(AP Photo/Richard Drew)
In this courtroom sketch, defendant Jeffrey Epstein, second from right, listens along with defense attorneys, from left, Marc Fernich, Michael Miller, and Martin Weinberg as Judge Richard M. Berman denies him bail during a hearing in federal court, Thursday, July 18, 2019 in New York. Judge Berman denied bail for the jailed financier on sex trafficking charges, saying the danger to the community that would result if the jet-setting defendant was free formed the "heart of this decision." (Aggie Kenny via AP)
FILE - This March 28, 2017, file photo, provided by the New York State Sex Offender Registry shows Jeffrey Epstein. A judge denied bail for jailed financier Jeffrey Epstein on sex trafficking charges Thursday, July 18, 2019, saying the danger to the community that would result if the jet-setting defendant was free formed the "heart of this decision." (New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP)
In this courtroom sketch, Judge Richard M. Berman speaking as he denies Jeffrey Epstein bail during a hearing in federal court, Thursday, July 18, 2019 in New York. Judge Berman denied bail for the jailed financier on sex trafficking charges, saying the danger to the community that would result if the jet-setting defendant was free formed the "heart of this decision." (Aggie Kenny via AP)
In this courtroom artist's sketch, defendant Jeffrey Epstein, left, and his attorney Martin Weinberg listen during a bail hearing in federal court, Monday, July 15, 2019 in New York. Epstein's lawyers want him released on house arrest to his Manhattan home while he awaits trial. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)
This courtroom sketch shows Judge Richard Berman as he speaks during the Jeffrey Epstein bail hearing in federal court, Monday July 15, 2019. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)
In this courtroom artist's sketch, defendant Jeffrey Epstein, left, listens as accuser Annie Farmer, second from right, speaks during a bail hearing in federal court, Monday, July 15, 2019 in New York. Farmer says she was 16 when she "had the misfortune" of meeting Epstein and later went to spend time with him in New Mexico. Accuser Courtney Wild, right, said in the hearing that she was abused by the wealthy financier in Palm Beach, Florida, starting at age 14. Epstein's lawyers want him released on house arrest to his Manhattan home while he awaits trial. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)
In this courtroom artist's sketch, defendant Jeffrey Epstein, left, and attorney Reid Weingarten, second from right, listen as attorney Martin Weinberg, right, speaks during a bail hearing in federal court, Monday, July 15, 2019 in New York. Epstein's lawyers have insisted he will not run. They want him released on house arrest to his Manhattan home while he awaits trial. Courtney Wild, third from left, said in the hearing that she was abused by the wealthy financier in Palm Beach, Florida, starting at age 14. She called him a "scary person" and urged detention "for the safety of any other girls" out there. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)
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U.S. District Judge Richard Berman, who oversaw the case against Epstein before his Aug. 10 death, invited alleged victims and their attorneys to attend the hearing after prosecutors asked that he scrap charges against the defendant since he is dead.

One woman, identified as Jane Doe 3, said she quit modeling after an encounter with Epstein.

Another told the court that she thinks Epstein's victims "will never heal" from what they endured, a view echoed by others.

"He could not begin to fathom what he took from us," said one accuser. "I am every girl that he did this to and they are me, today we stand together."

Another woman, identified as Jane Doe 5, read a letter that she wrote to Epstein.

"I will never be able to get over the overwhelming emotions and embarrassment from that drama," she said.

Prosecutors said at the start of the hearing that a dismissal of the case against Epstein would not prohibit the government from investigating the alleged conspiracy related to the multimillionaire financier's alleged sex trafficking.

"The investigation into those matters has been ongoing, is ongoing, and will continue," said a prosecutor for the Southern District of New York.

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U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said Epstein's death was "a rather stunning turn of events" and that giving the women a chance to speak was a matter of law and "respect."

"I believe it is the court's responsibility and in its purview that the victims in the case are dealt with, with dignity and with humanity," he said.

Epstein, 66, was arrested July 6 on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges. Prosecutors say he sexually abused dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14, from at least 2002 through 2005. He was also accused of paying his victims to recruit others, allowing him to build a vast network of girls to exploit.

One accuser who wants to remain anonymous and is represented by lawyer Lisa Bloom, said in a statement prior to the start of Tuesday's hearing that Epstein's killing himself "denied everyone justice."

"I cannot say that I am pleased he committed suicide, but I am at peace knowing that he will not be able to hurt anyone else," the woman said in the statement. "I do not want the narrative to be 'those poor girls.' ... I want some sort of closure for those of us who will relive those horrible moments where we were assaulted, abused, and taken advantage of by Epstein," the statement continued.

Bloom announced prior to the hearing that none of her clients would be attending as they wish to remain anonymous.

Epstein was charged with one count of sex trafficking conspiracy and one count of sex trafficking. He faced up to 45 years in prison if found guilty. He pleaded not guilty and was denied bail.

His death in his jail cell was ruled a suicide by hanging.

He had been placed on suicide watch in July after he was found in his cell semiconscious with marks on his neck. He was later taken off suicide watch after being evaluated by a doctoral-level psychologist, the Justice Department said in a letter to Congress.

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