The Manhattan district attorney who declined to prosecute Harvey Weinstein and also protected President Donald Trump’s adult children from potential felony fraud charges reportedly attempted to help out billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, according to the New York Times.
An experienced sex-crimes prosecutor from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office argued that Epstein shoudn’t be registered as a top-level sex offender in New York during a hearing in 2011.
Jennifer Gaffney, the prosecutor, asked a judge to reduce Epstein’s sex-offender status to the lowest possible classification. This would have kept the information from going public and kept him off the sex offender registry.
Justice Ruth Pickholz denied the request and criticized the district attorney’s office for arguing in support of a man accused of sexually exploiting dozens of minor girls in Florida.
Vance denied having any knowledge of the hearing until after they happened, but upon reviewing the transcript, he said he did not believe Gaffney “was going out on a ledge for the defendant.”
Vance’s office has been harshly criticized for how they handle allegations against rich and influential men. His office declined to prosecute Harvey Weinstein in 2015 when he was accused of groping an Italian model, but later charged Weinstein with sex crimes involving two other women. He also declined to pursue charges against two of President Trump’s children, Ivanka and Donald Jr., in 2015, after allegations that they misled investors in a condo-hotel project.
“Was it preferential treatment at the highest level, or is it that the Manhattan district attorney’s office is not run well enough to ensure that sex crimes are investigated and taken seriously?” asked Sonia Ossorio, president of the New York City chapter of the National Organization for Women. “Either way it’s unacceptable.”
Mr. Vance denied that his office provides preferential treatment, regardless of wealth or social status.