Jeffrey Epstein was accused of molesting hundreds of underage teens. Though he faced life in prison, Epstein only went to jail part-time due to a much criticized plea deal.
The U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into Jeffrey Epstein’s plea deal with Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta, according to the Miami Herald. Epstein was accused of molesting over 100 underage girls in Palm Beach.
The investigation comes after Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican Nebraska representative, was critical of Epstein’s case after reading several stories in the Miami Herald which explained how Acosta and other DOJ attorneys worked with defense lawyers to give Epstein, a multimillionaire, a lenient plea deal.
The DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility will lead the investigation. “OPR has now opened an investigation into allegations that department attorneys may have committed professional misconduct in the manner in which the Epstein criminal matter was resolved,’’ wrote Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd.
Sasse and U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz have questioned whether there was any undue influence in the case.
“Jeffrey Epstein is a child rapist and there’s not a single mom or dad in America who shouldn’t be horrified by the fact that he received a pathetically soft sentence,’’ Sasse said on Wednesday. “The victims of Epstein’s child sex trafficking ring deserve this investigation — and so do the American people and the members of law enforcement who work to put these kinds of monsters behind bars.’’
The handling of Epstein’s case has raised questions about whether wealthy people have greater influence over those in the justice system. Epstein is incredibly wealthy and well-connected. He has friendships with Bill Clinton, President Trump, Prince Andrew, Alan Dershowitz, and the former prime minister of Israel, Ehud Barak.
“I am in tears that someone is finally listening to our stories. Hopefully, God willing, something happens and they dig into this and do something,’’ said Jena-Lisa Jones who was molested by Epstein when she was 14.
Although Epstein could have received a life sentence for sex trafficking, he was secretly granted federal immunity alone with others who were party to his conspiracy. Epstein’s victims found out that he was granted a plea bargain after learning about it on television when he was sentenced in June 2008.
Acosta is being accused of agreeing to seal Epstein’s agreement and hide it from the victims so that they could not try and derail the deal before his sentencing.
Epstein was given only 18 months in the Palm Beach County jail. He received privileges in jail which required him to spend little time in his cell. Six days a week, Epstein’s private driver picked him up at jail and drove him to an office where he spent up to 12 hours a day speaking to friends, lawyers, and women who were named as participants in the sex trafficking scheme. He ended up only serving 13 months and was released in 2009.
Two of Epstein’s victims are now suing the federal government, saying that prosecutors violated the Crime Victims’ Right Act. The Act gives certain rights to crime victims, including the ability to be informed about any plea deal.
Epstein settled individual civil lawsuits with over 40 victims. Many of Epstein’s victims now say that they feel betrayed by prosecutors who treated them like prostitutes, despite them being under the age of consent.