NEW YORK (AP) — Sealed court records contain the names of at least hundreds of third parties who were mentioned in a civil case involving sexual abuse allegations against the late financier Jeffrey Epstein, a federal judge said Wednesday.
The third parties, including a man now identified only as John Doe, will be allowed to object to the release of the documents following a painstaking review of the materials, U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska said.
"In some of these documents there are literally a thousand people" mentioned, Preska said, referring to a tranche of filings that includes more than two dozen depositions.
The records also include hundreds of pages of investigative reports, said Jeff Pagliuca, an attorney for former Epstein girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell.
"There's some work involved in this," he said of the process the attorneys will follow in determining which names to black out.
Preska scheduled Wednesday's hearing after an appeals court in New York ordered her to review the records and release "all documents for which the presumption of public access outweighs any countervailing privacy interests."
It's not clear who is named in the records, but an attorney for a John Doe warned in court papers Tuesday that the documents may contain "life-changing" disclosures against third parties not directly involved in the litigation.
The attorney, Nicholas Lewin, requested the opportunity to be heard on the matter, citing his unnamed client's "reputational rights."
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has already made public more than 2,000 pages in the since-settled defamation lawsuit filed against Maxwell by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, one of several dozen women who accused Epstein of sexual abuse.
Giuffre accused Maxwell of recruiting young women for Epstein's sexual pleasure and taking part in the abuse, allegations Maxwell has vehemently denied.
Epstein, 66, took his own life last month while awaiting trial on federal sex-trafficking charges.
The first release of court records, unsealed the day before Epstein's jailhouse suicide in Manhattan, contained graphic claims against Epstein and several of his former associates. Giuffre alleges she was trafficked internationally to have sex with prominent American politicians, business executives and world leaders, some of whom she named in a deposition.
Giuffre sued in 2015, alleging Maxwell subjected her to "public ridicule, contempt and disgrace" by calling her a liar in published statements "with the malicious intent of discrediting and further damaging Giuffre worldwide."
About one-fifth of all documents filed in the case were done so under seal, a level of secrecy the 2nd Circuit ruled was unjustified. The appellate court, in unsealing the records, issued an unusual warning to the public and the media "to exercise restraint" regarding potentially defamatory allegations contained in the depositions and other court filings.