At a hearing in New York, judge Loretta Preska, sought to make progress on determining how many of the documents should be made public.
Lawyers for plaintiffs in the case have told her the documents may contain “life-changing” disclosures against third parties not directly involved in the litigation.
The hearing on Wednesday related to a defamation lawsuit brought by one of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Giuffre, against socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, whom Ms Giuffre accused of recruiting dozens of young women for one-time trust fund investor, who was found dead in his cell last month – apparently by his own hand – while awaiting trial on fresh assault charges.
Ms Maxwell had denied the allegations made by Ms Giuffre, and the matter was settled out of court, as the issue was due to do to court in May 2017.
The 66-year-old former financier who once counted Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump among his friends and associates, was found dead last month in his jail cell, a day after a court unsealed scores of documents containing details allegations of sex trafficking charges – charges he denied. A decade earlier, he served prison time in Florida after he pleaded guilty to a single state charge of sexual misconduct with a girl in 2008. The plea deal was widely criticised.
The 2nd circuit court of appeals had already made public more than 2,000 pages in the since-settled defamation lawsuit. Those documents contained graphic claims against Epstein and several of his former associates.
The appeals court ordered Ms Preska to review hundreds of filings in the case, including more than two dozen depositions, and release them after considering privacy concerns.
At the hearing on Wednesday, Jeffrey Pagliuca, a lawyer for Ms Maxwell, told the court: “In these 29 depositions there are dozens if not hundreds of names of other people.”
He added: “There are hundreds of pages of investigative reports that mention hundreds of people.”
Meanwhile, lawyers for the victims have urged that the documents be unsealed as soon as possible.
Sigrid McCrawly, who has represented victims for five years, said only social security numbers, medical information and the names of minors should be kept secret as more documents are unsealed in the case, and that everything else should come to light, according to Bloomberg News.
“Anybody whose information is in the documents would be notified so they could object,” she said.
Prince Andrew, who was filmed in the company of Epstein in New York after he left jail in Florida, has repeatedly denied any wrong doing, despite Ms Giuffre urging him last week to “come clean”. “He knows exactly what he’s done,” she said.
In a statement, the Duke of York said last month there had been immense speculation about the convicted sex offender.
“This is particularly the case in relation to my former association or friendship with Mr Epstein,” he said. “Therefore I am eager to clarify the facts to avoid further speculation.”
He added: “At no stage during the limited time I spent with him did I see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction.”
Yet there has reportedly been fall out for the prince. On Wednesday, Sky News said several of his public engagements in Northern Ireland had been cancelled, as a direct result of recent publicity about his relationship with the disgraced financier.
A palace spokesperson said: “The Duke of York has a full programme in Northern Ireland as founder of The Duke of York Young Champions Trophy. HRH will undertake a number of engagements related to the tournament, at which there will be 66 sportsmen and women from 35 countries.
“The duke will meet volunteers, supporters and representatives from local businesses, host the tournament dinner, attend the tournament and present prizes.”
Additional reporting by agencies
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