JP Morgan Chase’s effort at a nearly $300 million settlement with the victims of Jeffrey Epstein hit a snag as an array of 17 attorneys general moved to object.
More than four years after the sex offender financier died while in prison, legal battles related to his criminal behavior have endured. Now, weeks after an eight-figure settlement by the U.S. Virgin Islands with JPMorgan Chase, AGs from across the nation joined in a letter to U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff contending that a similar decision would have “serious implications” in prosecuting sex traffickers.
Led by New Mexico AG Raúl Torrez (D), Monday’s letter objected to a possible $290 million settlement in the case of Doe 1 v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, ahead of a scheduled final approval hearing for Nov. 9 suggesting it would prevent them from pursuing legal recourse under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) in the same way the Virgin Islands had.
“While the issue is now mooted as to the U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General by its parallel settlement with JPMorgan, allowing such a broad release of claims may have serious implications for future cases brought by state law enforcement perpetrators of sex-trafficking under the TVPA,” the letter stated.
In addition to the attorney general of Washington, D.C., 15 states joined New Mexico in opposing the nine-figure settlement including Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah and Vermont.
The letter to Rakoff, presiding in the Southern District of New York, went on to state, “Jeffrey Epstein’s surviving victims should be fully compensated for the profound harm they have suffered.”
“However, as it now stands, the settlement agreement improperly seeks to release (the states’) claims for victim-specific relief,” argued the AGs.
The St. Thomas Source reported that the settlement between the Virgin Islands and JPMorgan Chase for $75 million, which had served as bank from 1998 through 2013, during which it had been legally bound to report financial evidence of questionable payments connected to the investigation of sex crimes, came less than a month before a trial was set to begin on Oct. 23.
Instead of reporting Epstein, the suit alleged that “JP Morgan knowingly and intentionally benefitted and received things of value for assisting, supporting, facilitating, and otherwise providing the most critical service for the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking organization to successfully rape, sexually assault, and coercively sex traffic Plaintiff Jane Doe 1 and the numerous other members of the Class proposed…”
Of the settlement, $30 million was expected to be distributed to charitable organizations that combat human trafficking and support survivors and another $25 million was allotted for law enforcement to help prevent similar crimes throughout the Virgin Islands as they have successfully brought in nearly $250 million in settlements connected Epstein’s illicit activities.
The Source also pointed out that, as Rakoff had given JPMorgan until Nov. 6 to respond to the objection from the AGs, Florida was notably absent from the letter as one of the primary bases of operation for Epstein’s activities that included New York, New Mexico, France and the Virgin Islands.