Jeffrey Epstein victims' fund pays more than $121 million, as claims process ends

FILE PHOTO: Jeffrey Epstein appears in a photo taken for the NY Division of Criminal Justice Services' sex offender registry
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By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) -A fund to compensate victims of Jeffrey Epstein's sexual abuses has completed the payout process, giving more than $121 million to about 138 people, the fund's administrator said on Monday.

About 225 claimants had sought restitution from the Epstein Victims' Compensation Fund, more than twice the 100 expected when the fund opened in June 2020.

The fund offered nearly $125 million to about 150 claimants. Those who rejected offers and the 75 who were turned away can still pursue claims against Epstein's estate, whose executors had proposed setting up the fund.

Jordana Feldman, the fund's administrator, in a statement said claimants "had an opportunity to be heard in a safe space, to share the intimate, personal, often harrowing accounts of what they endured and how it has affected them."

Feldman announced the payouts one day before the second anniversary of Epstein's Aug. 10, 2019 death.

Epstein, 66, killed himself in a Manhattan jail two days after signing his will, while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

The $121 million payout is seven times the $17 million that women who accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct were awarded in January, in the bankruptcy of the now-convicted movie producer's former studio.

Some awards for Epstein victims were delayed by litigation by Attorney General Denise George of the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Epstein owned two islands, against the financier's estate.

Epstein's executors have denied George's claims they depleted the estate's $634 million of assets too quickly, and were the "indispensable captains" of his sex trafficking.

Daniel Weiner, a lawyer for the executors, said they were "extremely pleased" with the payments to Epstein's victims, in the first such compensation program by an estate.

He said Epstein's estate still had $190.2 million of assets on June 30 to pay creditors, litigants and expenses.

George did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Feldman also helped lead the compensation fund for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's longtime associate, has pleaded not guilty to engaging in sex trafficking and grooming underage girls for Epstein to abuse. Her trial in Manhattan could begin in November.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Howard Goller)