31/08/2019 09:21 BST

Jeffrey Epstein: Everything We Learned This Week About The Case

Prince Andrew's connection to the billionaire financier has drawn fresh attention as the FBI reportedly seized a photo of the royal.

On Thursday the criminal case against Jeffrey Epstein was formally dismissed, standard procedure in the event of the accused’s death, but a move that has not quelled the allegations and rumours surrounding the case

The wealthy 66-year-old money manager who once counted US President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew as friends, was arrested on July 6 and pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges involving dozens of girls as young as 14.

He was found dead in his Manhattan jail cell on August 10, having been previously taken off suicide watch.

A New York City medical examiner concluded that he had died of suicide by hanging.

Here are all the latest twists and turns in the saga from this week.

Accusers in court

On Tuesday, a succession of women who said Jeffrey Epstein sexually abused them at a young age voiced anger and defiance in a packed New York courtroom, some lamenting that the financier’s suicide deprived them of the opportunity to obtain justice.

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters
Gloria Allred, representing alleged victims of Jeffrey Epstein, leaves with Teala Davies and an unidentified women and baby after the hearing in the criminal case against Epstein.

“The fact that I will never have a chance to face my predator in court eats away at my soul,” accuser Jennifer Araoz said during a hearing that went on for two and a half hours in front of US District Judge Richard Berman, who let the women testify despite the fact that Epstein’s death meant he would never face a trial.

“I will not let him win in death,” another woman, Chauntae Davies, told the court.

One after another, the accusers detailed what they said were Epstein’s actions against them years ago when they were teenagers, Reuters reports.

In all, 16 women testified, including six who did so without giving their names, and lawyers read statements from seven other women.

“He showed the world what a depraved and cowardly human being he was by taking his own life,” said Sarah Ransome, another of the women.

Ransome implored prosecutors to hold Epstein’s co-conspirators responsible, telling them, “Please, please finish what you started. We all know he did not act alone.”

Experts contest suicide 

During the same court hearing, one of Epstein’s lawyers told a judge that an expert hired by the family says injuries to his neck were more consistent with homicide than suicide.

A New York City coroner has already ruled that Epstein’s August 10 death in his cell was a suicide by hanging but lawyer Martin Weinberg asked US District Judge Richard Berman to look into the matter.

Conspiracy theories continue to circulate with many highlighting what they describe as suspicious circumstances around Epstein’s death.

His suicide cut short a criminal case that was billed to shed a light on the world of the high-flying financier accused of sex trafficking, who had connections to celebrities, presidents and royalty.

Jeenah Moon / Reuters
An exterior view of the Metropolitan Correctional Center jail where financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was found dead.

It has already been reported that one of the guards on duty at the Manhattan Correctional Center was a “fill in” and others fell asleep on shift and failed to check on him for three hours. 

Epstein had also been taken off suicide watch despite apparently attempting to take his own life just two weeks earlier.

Authorities have explained these apparent anomalies as the pressures of budget and staffing cuts but the conspiracy theories remain predictably stubborn – not helped by the fact they’ve also been fanned by, you guessed it, President Trump.

But then this week, another mysterious factor came into play...

FBI studies cameras outside cell

Two cameras that malfunctioned outside the jail cell in which Epstein died were sent to an FBI crime lab for examination this week, a law enforcement source told Reuters.

The cameras were sent to Quantico, Virginia, site of a major FBI crime lab where agents and forensic scientists analyse evidence.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that at least one camera in the hallway outside Epstein’s cell had footage that was unusable but said there was other usable footage captured in the area.

The US Justice Department declined comment.

Prince Andrew urged to come clean 

On Wednesday it was reported a woman who alleges she was a victim of convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and claimed she was forced into a sexual encounter with the Duke of York has urged the royal to “come clean”.

Virginia Giuffre was speaking to reporters after a hearing for alleged victims of the disgraced financier and said Andrew “knows what he’s done”, the Press Association reported.

Duncan McGlynn via Getty Images
Prince Andrew, Duke of York is driven from Crathie Kirk Church following the service on August 11, 2019 in Crathie, Aberdeenshire. 

Since Epstein’s death, there have been a number of reports about his relationship with the duke, including that the pair travelled together on Epstein’s private jet with teenager Virginia Roberts, now known as Giuffre.

Giuffre has claimed in court papers in Florida that she was forced to have sex with Andrew when she was aged 17, under the state’s age of consent.

Her allegations, which Andrew strongly denies, were struck from US civil court records in 2015 after a judge said they were “immaterial and impertinent”.

Buckingham Palace has contested reports about Andrew’s links to Epstein, including the private jet flights, over “a number of inconsistencies”.

And there was more bad news for Prince Andrew later in the week...

Prince Andrew could face lawsuit 

A lawyer representing Giuffre said a lawsuit may be brought against him.

David Boies echoed the words of his client and urged the duke to “just come clean”. 

The lawyer told Sky News he has asked to interview Andrew and is willing to travel to London, and said going through the courts could be one course of action.

Boies said: “One of the options is to bring a lawsuit. I think we and other counsel in the US are exploring what the options and possibilities are – I hope we don’t have to go down that road but we’d be willing to consider it.”

Andrew released a statement at the weekend expressing “tremendous sympathy” for Epstein’s alleged victims.

He also reiterated that it was a “mistake” seeing Epstein, 66, after the American’s release from an 18-month prison term in 2010 for prostituting minors.

Prince Andrew’s hands

Also this week, a debate has been raging about the infamous photo of Prince Andrew with his arm around Giuffre, said to be taken in 2001.

The Telegraph reported the FBI has seized the original to check for signs of tampering after sources close to Prince Andrew claimed it had been manipulated to show his hand around her waist.

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