By Brendan Pierson
(Reuters) - Women who say they were abused by deceased financier Jeffrey Epstein should not be required to sign broad liability waivers in order to get payouts from his estate, the attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands said on Wednesday.
The office of Attorney General Denise George said in a statement that the estate was demanding the "broad releases," which would shield not only the estate but potentially other individuals from legal liability, as part of a proposed victim compensation fund.
A spokeswoman for George said people covered by the releases could include anyone linked to Epstein who was involved in trafficking or abusing girls.
"With this demand still in place, the Fund cannot ensure a fundamentally fair and legally sufficient process for victims who choose to participate," the attorney general said.
George's office has asked the Virgin Islands probate court, which is overseeing the estate, to resolve the dispute. The estate was valued at $636.1 million before the recent global market plunge.
Lawyers for the estate could not immediately be reached for comment.
Epstein was arrested last July on charges he abused and trafficked in women and girls from 2002 to 2005 in Manhattan and Florida and pleaded not guilty. He died on Aug. 10 last year at age 66, five weeks after his arrest and two days after signing his will, by hanging himself in his Manhattan jail cell.
George sued the estate in January, saying Epstein's sexual misconduct there stretched from 2001 to 2018 and included raping and trafficking in dozens of women and girls.
At least two dozen Epstein accusers have filed civil lawsuits against the estate. Some named Epstein's friend Ghislaine Maxwell and other alleged enablers of Epstein's abuses as defendants.
Ghislaine, whose whereabouts are currently unknown, has denied the allegations against her.
The compensation fund for Epstein's victims, which was set up by the estate, is overseen by Kenneth Feinberg and Jordana Feldman, who worked on a fund for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
(Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Tom Brown)