By Brendan Pierson
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Three women on Tuesday sued the estate of Jeffrey Epstein, saying they were sexually abused by the financier, both before and after the widely criticized 2007 plea deal that allowed him to avoid federal prosecution for sex crimes.
The lawsuits, filed in Manhattan federal court, bring to at least five the total number of civil cases against Epstein's estate since his apparent suicide in jail on Aug. 10.
Two of the women, "Katlyn Doe" and "Lisa Doe," met Epstein when they were 17, and the third, "Priscilla Doe," when she was 20, according to the lawsuits. All said Epstein used a "vast enterprise" of associates to recruit them, subject them to unwanted sex acts and keep them under his control.
All three said the abuse continued after Epstein reached a deal with federal prosecutors in Florida in 2007. The deal allowed him to plead guilty to state prostitution charges and spend 13 months in a county jail, during which he was allowed to leave during the day on work release.
The lawsuits said Epstein had Katlyn and Priscilla flown to Florida so he could continue to abuse them even while he was on work release from jail. He made Katlyn feel dependent by promising to pay for medical treatment she needed, according to her lawsuit.
He exerted control over Lisa and Priscilla by promising, falsely, to advance their dance careers, their lawsuits said.
The lawsuit by Katlyn alleges that in 2013, Epstein forced her to marry one of his associates who needed the arrangement to become a legal resident of the United States.
In addition to Epstein's estate, the lawsuits target several corporate entities he allegedly controlled.
A lawyer for the executors of the estate could not immediately be reached for comment.
Epstein was arrested on July 6 and pleaded not guilty to charges of sex trafficking involving dozens of underage girls as young as 14. He died on Aug. 10 in his jail cell at age 66, and an autopsy report released on Friday concluded he hanged himself.
Just two days before, Epstein had signed a will placing all of his property, worth more than $577 million, in a trust called The 1953 Trust after the year of his birth, according to a copy of the document seen by Reuters.
The will was filed on Thursday in Superior Court of the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Epstein was domiciled, according to a stamp on the document and a statement sent to Reuters on behalf of Epstein's estate.
According to the petition to the court, Epstein's personal property included some $56 million in cash, $18 million in planes, cars and boats, and nearly $200 million in hedge funds and private equity investments.
Epstein's death at the jail triggered multiple investigations and had prompted U.S. Attorney General William Barr to criticize "serious irregularities" at the facility, and to remove the acting chief of the federal Bureau of Prisons.
Epstein, a registered sex offender, once socialized with U.S. President Donald Trump and former President Bill Clinton.
His 2007 non-prosecution agreement was criticized as too lenient. Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, who oversaw the deal as U.S. Attorney in Florida, resigned from his post after Epstein's arrest.
Barr has said that an investigation of Epstein's crimes, including possible co-conspirators, is continuing.
(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Andrea Ricci and David Gregorio)