An influential billionaire accused of sexually abusing dozens of young girls has deprived his alleged victims of the chance to testify against him for the first time, by settling a lawsuit.
Financier Jeffrey Epstein reached a last-minute agreement on Tuesday in the civil case in Palm Beach, Florida.
The lawsuit had pitted Epstein, 65, against a lawyer representing women who say the tycoon abused them as teens.
Epstein admitted prostitution charges in 2008 and served a year in jail.
In his latest legal battle, the registered sex offender originally sued lawyer Bradley Edwards, who has represented alleged Epstein victims.
When the financier dropped the lawsuit, Mr Edwards counter-sued.
Just before jury selection was due to begin on Tuesday, Epstein issued a public apology to the attorney.
Read out in court, it said he had filed an “unreasonable” lawsuit against Mr Edwards.
Epstein said he did so because the defence attorney’s “aggressive investigation and litigation style was highly effective and therefore troublesome to me”.
“I am now admitting that I was wrong and that the things I said to harm Mr Edwards’ reputation as a trial lawyer were false.”
None of the other details in the settlement, including a monetary payout, have been divulged.
Until his disgrace, Epstein rubbed shoulders with the likes of former President Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Prince Andrew.
The money manager – the subject of a bombshell Miami Herald investigation last week – was accused of trafficking some 40 teenage girls.
Epstein eventually agreed a plea deal widely seen as extraordinarily lenient. His accusers never got the chance to testify.
The prosecutor criticised for letting Epstein off the hook was Alexander Acosta, who is now labour secretary in the Trump administration.
Mr Edwards has told the Miami Herald he is determined to give the women their day in court.
The defence lawyer has launched a separate case to overturn the original plea deal of a decade ago.
He argues it was struck in secret without telling the women, a possible violation of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act.