Posted on Monday, February 1st, 2021 at 10:33 pm
For the past six months, a fund has been in operation to compensate survivors of abuse perpetrated by Jeffrey Epstein. The Epstein Victims’ Compensation Program, which was established by executors of the Epstein estate, opened officially on June 25, 2020. The program will continue to accept claims from Epstein’s victims through March 2021.
According to the New York Times, the compensation fund has already doled out over $30 million to survivors this year. The program has received significantly more claims than were expected – over 100 claims in total. This comes with the expectation that claims will continue to roll in over the coming three months.
When Epstein died by suicide in jail after he was arrested in 2019, his fortune was valued at approximately $600 million. Now, it is estimated to sit at about $400 million.
This enormous sum of money should be divided among the many women and children who survived Epstein’s extensive abuse, trafficking, and exploitation. Thankfully, the Epstein estate and related parties have shown recognition of this fact by creating the official compensation fund.
The fund offers a crucial, potentially expedited chance at justice for many people. That being said, submitting a claim to the Epstein Victims’ Compensation Program may not be the best possible route to recovery for all who experienced Epstein’s abuse. Some survivors may prefer to pursue a lawsuit and have their stories heard in court.
Both the compensation fund and the recent New York Child Victims Act can provide a path toward healing for those abused by Epstein. Each of these options has unique merits that individual survivors may take into consideration.
Filing a Claim With the Epstein Victims’ Compensation Program
By filing a claim with the Epstein compensation fund, survivors of Epstein’s abuse can seek compensation quietly and without the publicity that may accompany a lawsuit. This process may also prove quicker than a lawsuit.
Rather than going to court (or reaching a settlement out of court), claimants to the fund need only interact with the program’s administrator. The administrator, Jordana Feldman, processes, evaluates, and reaches a decision about all claims submitted to the program.
In her role as administrator, Feldman acts independently of the Epstein estate. The estate does not have the power to evaluate claims and has agreed to distribute compensation in accordance with the administrator’s determinations.
Furthermore, the Epstein Victims’ Compensation program promises strict confidentiality for all claimants. This includes confidentiality from members of the Epstein estate.
Feldman has told the New York Times that it takes about 60 days to review each claim. Within this period, claimants participate in an interview over video-chat to share their experience with her.
“[The interview] gives the victims an opportunity to tell their story, and it gives me an opportunity to get to know them in a way that can’t be fully captured in a paper file,” Feldman said to the Times.
According to Feldman, claimants may receive offers of compensation ranging from thousands to millions of dollars. Upon receiving an offer from the program, the survivor who filed the claim may then choose to accept or deny the compensation. If the offered amount seems fair and satisfactory, the survivor may decide to accept it – although this is a decision that should be made with careful consideration.
It is important to note that claimants who accept compensation from the fund in turn waive their rights to file individual lawsuits in the future. In order to receive payment, each claimant must sign a release that agrees not to litigate against the Epstein estate or “related entities and individuals.”
Pursuing a Lawsuit Under the New York Child Victims Act
Whereas the anonymity and expediency of the victims’ compensation fund may appeal to some survivors of Epstein’s abuse, others may feel that the New York legal system better serves their needs.
Those who suffered exploitation, trafficking, or abuse from Epstein as minors can now seek justice through the New York Child Victims Act (CVA).
The CVA, which took effect in August of 2019, lengthened the statute of limitations for victims of child sex abuse. Now, survivors have until the age of 55 to take civil action against their abusers and related parties. (The previous age limit for child sex abuse survivors to file a lawsuit was 23.)
Critically for those abused by Epstein, the CVA also opened up a limited “look-back” window for all survivors of child sexual abuse to pursue lawsuits. The look-back window is set to last until August 14, 2021, exactly two years after it opened.
During this look-back period, anyone may file a child sex abuse suit, even if their case had expired under the previous statute of limitations. This means that survivors of Epstein’s abuse who were unable to pursue a lawsuit by the age of 23 can now do so.
Many women and children experienced intimidation, trauma, or a mix of factors that prevented them from taking civil action against Epstein and his affiliates earlier in life. For these people, the New York CVA provides a new chance at justice.
Hach & Rose, LLP Stands With Survivors of Epstein’s Abuse
Jeffrey Epstein’s horrific crimes have been well-documented. Even in the wake of Epstein’s death in 2019, there is no question that each one of his victims deserves justice from the Epstein estate and Epstein’s affiliates.
At Hach & Rose, LLP, we understand that no amount of financial compensation can undo Epstein’s terrible actions. Compensation can, however, help you take necessary steps toward recovery and healing. The money you may receive, whether through a lawsuit or the victims’ compensation fund, can cover medical bills, mental health services, and more so that you can turn a new page in your life.
Our experienced child sex abuse lawyers can listen to your story and help you decide whether the compensation fund or a lawsuit makes the most sense in your situation. Whichever route you choose, we will bring the utmost compassion and skill to your case to help you secure fair compensation for what you’ve endured. We also have the extensive experience in this field that high-profile abuse cases demand.
To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call 646-685-8045 or fill out our contact form.