Some of Jeffrey Epstein's alleged victims have testified at a hearing brought by prosecutors to dismiss the case against the financier now that he has died.
A succession of women who said Jeffrey Epstein sexually abused them, including Queenslander Virginia Roberts Giuffre, have voiced anger and defiance in a packed New York courtroom - with some lamenting that the financier’s suicide deprived them of the opportunity to obtain justice.
Ms Giuffre, who says she was abused by Epstein for years and farmed out to his wealthy friends including Britain's Prince Andrew, said: "the reckoning must not end, it must continue."
Ms Giuffre has said she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew three times, an allegation he has repeatedly and strenuously denied.
"He knows exactly what he's done and I hope he comes clean about it," she told reporters after the hearing.
US government attorney Maurene Comey assured them prosecutors would pursue investigations.
Epstein, who befriended many celebrities and politicians over the years, including Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, was arrested in July and charged with trafficking young girls for sex.
An emotional court hearing
On Tuesday, Epstein's alleged victims wept in court as they told an extraordinary US hearing - held weeks after his death - how they were sexually abused by the disgraced financier.
More than a dozen women - some speaking through tears, others with their voices breaking - described how he "stole" their dreams and "robbed" them of their innocence.
Epstein, 66, hung himself in his New York prison cell earlier this month while awaiting trial on charges he trafficked young women for sex, depriving alleged victims of their day in court.
Tuesday's hearing was scheduled so they could tell their stories before the case against him is dismissed.
It was the first time most of the women had spoken publicly about Epstein.
"Today we stand together. I will not remain a victim and be silent for one more day," said actress Anouska De Georgiou, who said she was sexually abused by Epstein.
The women hugged and consoled each after returning from the podium where they addressed the Manhattan federal court, some reading from statements others going without.
A few cried as they listened to testimony that sounded all too familiar to their own: vulnerable young women who were recruited, groomed, and then coerced into having sex with a multi-millionaire.
Chauntae Davies described how she spent two weeks "vomiting myself to death" in a hospital after being raped by Epstein after she was recruited to give him massages, detailing his "sick abuse of young girls."
"Every public humiliation I have endured I have suffered and he has won," she said.
Another victim, who asked to remain anonymous, said she was "haunted forever" by being raped by Epstein.
"I was his slave. I felt powerless and ashamed," she said, adding that Epstein had threatened to kill her if she wasn't a virgin.
“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 the 2-1/2 hour hearing before US District Judge Richard Berman.
The dramatic statements, with the women expressing raw emotions and sometimes holding back tears, came less than three weeks after Epstein was found dead in a Manhattan jail cell where he was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges involving dozens of girls as young as 14.
Federal prosecutors asked the judge to formally dismiss their case against Epstein because of his death but said the government’s investigation into potential co-conspirators was ongoing.
One after another, the accusers detailed what they said were Epstein’s actions against them years ago when they were teenagers.
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.
Ms 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.”
Explaining why he gave the women and their lawyers an opportunity to address the court, the judge said it was “both because of their relevant experiences and because they should always be involved before, rather than after, the fact.”
At the end of the hearing, Mr Berman said “everyone has benefited greatly” from hearing from the women.
Prosecutors accused Epstein of arranging for girls to perform nude “massages” and other sex acts and paying some girls to recruit others, from at least 2002 to 2005.
Some of the women have publicly said Epstein raped them.
A vivid memory
Ms Davies told the court Epstein had hired her to give massages.
She said Epstein raped her the third or fourth time they met on his private island and continued to abuse her.
Another woman, testifying without giving her name, said Epstein molested her when she was 15 at his ranch in New Mexico.
“What I remember most vividly is him explaining how beneficial the experience was for me,” she said.
Epstein’s death has triggered investigations by the FBI, the US Justice Department’s inspector general’s office and the US Bureau of Prisons, which runs the detention facility.
Epstein lawyers Reid Weingarten and Martin Weinberg said they had doubts about the New York medical examiner’s conclusion that Epstein committed suicide, urging Mr Berman to investigate further.
Epstein’s arrest in New York came more than a decade after he avoided prosecution on similar federal charges in Florida by striking a deal enabling him to plead guilty to state prostitution charges.
That deal, widely criticised as too lenient, resulted in Epstein serving 13 months in a county jail, which he was allowed to leave during the day on work release.
At the hearing, the judge said he was obligated to dismiss the indictment.
“Dismissal of this indictment as to Jeffrey Epstein in no way prohibits or inhibits the government’s ongoing investigation into potential co-conspirators,” said Assistant US Attorney Maurene Comey, adding that prosecutors also could continue to seek forfeiture of Epstein’s assets.
Many of the women who testified said Ghislaine Maxwell, a longtime Epstein companion, helped him recruit girls and carry out his abuse.
A spokesman for federal prosecutors in Manhattan declined to confirm or deny whether Ms Maxwell or any other specific individual is under investigation.
A lawyer for Ms Maxwell could not immediately be reached for comment.
Multiple women have filed civil lawsuits against Epstein’s estate since his death, seeking monetary damages.
Two days before his death, Epstein signed a will placing all of his property, worth more than $577 million, in a trust, according to a copy of the document seen by Reuters.
The move could make it more difficult for accusers to get access to his riches in civil litigation.
“I feel very angry and sad,” accuser Courtney Wild told the court on Tuesday, “that justice has never been served in this case.”