Federal prosecutors handling the Jeffrey Epstein case, including U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, broke federal law, a judge has concluded, when they struck a plea deal with the wealthy sex trafficker and kept it secret from more than 30 of his victims.
The decision was laid out by U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra in a 33-page opinion, the Miami Herald reported, which stated evidence showed that Epstein “had been operating an international sex operation in which he and others recruited underage girls — not only in Florida — but from overseas, in violation of federal law.”
The politically-connected billionaire not only paid others to procure underage girls for himself but also for the sexual gratification of others, the judge wrote.
But rather than prosecute Epstein under federal sex trafficking laws, Acosta — the U.S. attorney in Miami at the time — opted to negotiate a non-prosecution agreement granting Epstein and co-conspirators immunity from federal prosecution.
Epstein served only 13 months in county jail for his crimes.
Acosta also agreed to seal the deal, the Herald reported, which meant Epstein’s victims — most of whom ranged in age from 13 to 16 — were unaware of the agreement until it was too late to participate.
Two of the victims filed a lawsuit in 2008 “claiming that prosecutors violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, which grants victims of federal crimes a series of rights, including the ability to confer with prosecutors about a possible plea deal.”
On this point, Marra agreed, saying the prosecutors violated federal law by failing to inform the victims of their plea deal with Epstein. The decision came 11 years after the lawsuit was initially filed.
In his opinion, Marra wrote: “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.’’
The Herald reported that Marra “stopped short of issuing a remedy or punishment” and “gave the government and victims 15 days to confer with each other to come up with a resolution.”