NEW YORK: The Manhattan district attorney’s office must give JPMorgan Chase & Co statements made to one of its prosecutors by a woman who is suing the largest US bank seeking monetary damages over its ties to late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, a judge ruled yesterday.
The privileges and laws invoked by district attorney Alvin Bragg’s office to try to block JPMorgan from obtaining the statements did not apply to these records, US district judge Jed Rakoff decided.
The woman, a ballet dancer known by Jane Doe, has said she was sexually abused by Epstein.
She sued New York-based JPMorgan last year in a proposed class action, accusing the bank of enabling his sex trafficking by keeping him as a client from 1998 to 2013, the last five years after he pleaded guilty to a Florida prostitution charge.
JPMorgan has denied liability.
It has in turn sued former senior executive Jes Staley, who was friendly with Epstein, making allegations that he concealed what he knew about Epstein’s crimes.
Staley has expressed regret for befriending Epstein, but denied any knowledge of his offences.
Representatives for Bragg and JPMorgan declined to comment following the judge’s ruling.
Staley’s lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
JPMorgan on March 7 issued a subpoena to the Manhattan DA’s office seeking statements that Jane Doe made to the chief of its sex crimes unit on Aug, 10, 2022, or any statements by people who identified Staley as a witness to or perpetrator of a sex crime.
Rakoff said the order that the DA turn over documents applies only to statements by Jane Doe.
The DA’s office has said it could avoid the subpoena because of several legal privileges as well as New York state laws guaranteeing grand jury secrecy.
Rakoff also heard arguments from JPMorgan and Jane Doe about whether potentially dozens of other alleged Epstein victims should be allowed to jointly sue JPMorgan together with the lead plaintiff, or whether each alleged victim would have to proceed individually.
A lawyer for Jane Doe said the question of whether the bank knew about and facilitated Epstein’s crimes was common to all the victims.
A lawyer for the bank said each individual’s circumstances were different and it would require “mini-trials” to determine if each were eligible to be part of the group.
Rakoff said he would rule on the question by June 20.
Epstein died in 2019 in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
New York City’s medical examiner called the death a suicide. - Reuters