Billionaire financier and registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein opted for a last-minute settlement Tuesday in a civil trial that would have seen three of his accusers testify in court, according to the Daily Beast.
Epstein has been accused of molesting dozens of underage girls, but the case scheduled to start this week in West Palm Beach, Florida, wasn’t filed by the women.
Instead, their attorney, Bradley Edwards, sued billionaire Epstein for claiming victim lawsuits were part of Ponzi scheme run by a former law partner.
The settlement came as a surprise on Tuesday, announced just before jury selection was set to begin.
“This is not a compromise,” Edwards said. “It is a surrender by Jeffrey Epstein.”
Epstein lawyer Scott Link then read out a statement from Epstein, who was not in the courtroom: "I sincerely apologize for the allegations that I made against Mr. Edwards.”
Edwards attorney Jack Scarola said it was public attention that helped draw the settlement to a close.
Last week, the Miami Herald published a series of stories about the Epstein case that included interviews with accusers who had never spoken before and the revelation that the disgraced hedge-fund manager became a government informant in exchange for a sweetheart plea deal that buried dozens of allegations of sexual abuse at his Palm Beach mansion.
Epstein, who has counted Donald Trump and Bill Clinton among his famous friends, pleaded guilty in 2008 to relatively minor charges of solicitation of prostitution and procurement of minors for prostitution. He he served 13 months of an 18-month sentence in the private wing of a Palm Beach county jail and was permitted to leave six days a week, for 16 hours each day, for “work release,” according to local press reports.
The agreement, Scarola said, “not only resulted in immunity for Jeffrey Epstein but handed out get-out-of-jail-free cards to his co-conspirators, as well.”