A trove of sealed court records names hundreds of people who are connected to Jeffrey Epstein, and one unnamed man has already asked a judge not to release his name or the names of others accused in the documents of wrongdoing, arguing it could unfairly damage their reputations.
The anonymous motion seeking to keep the records sealed underscored the sordid nature of the allegations against Mr. Epstein and the fear of people in his social circles that their standing could be harmed by any links to him.
Mr. Epstein killed himself in a federal jail cell last month while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges in Manhattan, but he left behind questions about who else might have been implicated in the alleged abuse.
“There are hundreds of other people implicated in dockets,” Jeffrey S. Pagliuca, an attorney involved in the litigation, said on Wednesday during a hearing about releasing the records, in Federal District Court in Manhattan. “There are a lot of people, your honor.”
He said the people are named in 29 depositions, voluminous investigatory records and an “address book” that includes over 1,000 names.
It remained unclear if the address book was the same one published in 2015 by Gawker with the numbers redacted. That book listed hundreds of politicians, celebrities and dignitaries in Mr. Epstein’s social circle.
Some of the men and women listed in the address book, however, said they had never met Mr. Epstein, and Mr. Epstein’s house manager, Alfredo Rodriguez, told the F.B.I. in 2009 that the book had been compiled by Mr. Epstein’s assistants, not the financier himself, according to an agent’s affidavit.
During the hearing, Judge Loretta A. Preska said she wanted to release the documents quickly and asked the lawyers to provide briefs in the coming weeks on which documents the public had the strongest right to see.
The judge did not immediately rule on whether names of people accused of misconduct should be blacked out, though she did say those people would have an opportunity to make arguments to the court about releasing the documents before she made a final decision.
Judge Preska acknowledged that it would be a painstaking and lengthy task to sort through the mounds of material and notify individuals named in the documents. She said some of the documents would require contacting “hundreds of people.”
“We’ve got to get this done,” Judge Preska said.
The records are part of a 2015 defamation lawsuit filed by one of Mr. Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, against Ghislaine Maxwell, Mr. Epstein’s longtime confidante. Nearly one fifth of the legal filings in the case were filed under seal, according to an appeals court order.
Ms. Giuffre has claimed publicly and in a deposition that she was coerced as a teenager into becoming a “sex slave” for Mr. Epstein and later was told to provide sexual services to several of his high-profile associates, including scientists, professors, and politicians. They include Britain’s Prince Andrew, who has vehemently denied the allegation.
Ms. Giuffre settled her defamation lawsuit in 2017, but media outlets and lawyers have sought the release of a mountain of depositions and documents amassed during the litigation, raising the possibility people might be accused of misconduct in those documents who have not had a chance to respond to the allegations in court.
On Tuesday, one man, known only as John Doe in his legal filing, sent a letter to the judge requesting that many of the records be kept sealed. He also asked for his name to remain shielded in any documents that may be released, arguing that he and others could face serious damage to their reputations.
The letter noted a previous judge on the case had said allegations in the sealed documents included a range of sexual acts involving Ms. Giuffre and “nonparties to this litigation, some famous, some not” as well as the names of people “who allegedly facilitated such acts.”
Naming these individuals would “unfairly do irreparable harm to their privacy and reputational interests,” because they would be tarred by “out-of-context insinuations of wrongdoing” without the opportunity to respond, the man’s lawyers, Nicholas J. Lewin and Paul M. Krieger, said in the letter. The lawyers also argued that providing the media more unsubstantiated allegations would only serve to continue a “cycle of irresponsible, sensationalist reporting.”
The hearing on Wednesday stemmed from a federal appeals court decision in July that had ordered the unsealing of one trove of legal documents in the defamation case.
On Aug. 9, the appellate court released about 2,000 pages of material, which provided lurid new details not only about Mr. Epstein’s abuse of underage girls but also allegations of sexual abuse by Mr. Epstein’s friends and associates.
In her deposition, Ms. Giuffre said she was ordered to have sex with a hotel chain owner, a former French modeling agent, a prominent scientist, a former state governor and two world leaders.
That release came one day before Mr. Epstein was found dead after hanging himself in a cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where he was awaiting trial on the federal sex-trafficking charges.
The appeals court ruled that a second larger batch of sealed documents could not be released until Judge Preska conducted a review of the material to determine what could be made public. Still, the appellate court ordered Judge Preska to release “all documents for which the presumption of public access outweighs any countervailing privacy interests.”
An earlier version of this article misstated the month that a federal appeals court ordered the unsealing of one trove of legal documents in the case. It was July, not August.