On Thursday, a U.S. District judge ruled that that federal prosecutors, including Alexander Acosta, who currently serves as the U.S. Secretary of Labor, violated federal law by signing a plea agreement without informing the victims of Jeffrey Epstein, who had supervised an international sex business that involved recruiting underage girls in America and overseas.
As The Miami Herald reports, U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra stated, “Epstein used paid employees to find and bring minor girls to him. Epstein worked in concert with others to obtain minors not only for his own sexual gratification, but also for the sexual gratification of others.’’
But Acosta, as an assistant U.S. attorney in Miami, joined other prosecutors to evade federal sex trafficking laws, instead making a deal with Epstein and his co-conspirators that offered immunity from federal prosecution. Epstein pled guilty in state court; he only served 13 months in the county jail, while none of his cohorts were ever charged.
The bulk of Epstein’s victims were between the ages of 13 and 16 when they were abused; none of them were informed of the deal, obviating the possibility of them rejecting it.
In 2008, when some of the victims finally heard about the plea deal, two of them filed a lawsuit that asserted prosecutors violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act.
Marra agreed with the victims, bringing to a climax 11 years of litigation. As The New York Post noted, Marra stated:
Particularly problematic was the Government’s decision to conceal the existence of the [agreement] and mislead the victims to believe that federal prosecution was still a possibility. When the Government gives information to victims, it cannot be misleading. While the Government spent untold hours negotiating the terms and implications of the [agreement] with Epstein’s attorneys, scant information was shared with victims. … Epstein used paid employees to find and bring minor girls to him. Epstein worked in concert with others to obtain minors not only for his own sexual gratification, but also for the sexual gratification of others.
Fox News reported, Marra cited Marie Villafaña, an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, saying, “from the time the FBI began investigating Epstein until September 24, 2007—when the [plea agreement] was concluded—the Office never conferred with the victims about [an agreement] or told the victims that such an agreement was under consideration.”
A spokeswoman with the US Department of Labor stated in response to the judge’s ruling, “For more than a decade, the actions of the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida in this case have been defended by the Department of Justice in litigation across three administrations and several attorneys general. The office’s decisions were approved by departmental leadership and followed departmental procedures. This matter remains in litigation.”
Brad Edwards, the attorney for the plaintiffs, had mixed feelings after the verdict was delivered; he was excited that the judge sided with the plaintiffs, but sad it had taken so long to achieve a just result. He said, “The Government aligned themselves with Epstein, working against his victims, for 11 years. Yes, this is a huge victory, but to make his victims suffer for 11 years, this should not have happened. Instead of admitting what they did, and doing the right thing, they spent 11 years fighting these girls.’’
Although Judge Marra did not dole out any more punishment for Epstein, he is permitting the federal government and the victims to discuss a just solution. Some victim’s rights groups assert that if other victims of Epstein state their case, Epstein could face further charges, as there has been no statute of limitations for sex trafficking since 2002.