In an opinion that was 11 years in the making, a federal judge has ruled in a lawsuit brought by victims of disgraced billionaire Jeffrey Epstein – who infamously served 13 months in prison on state prostitution charges after scoring a plea deal with prosecutors led by now-Labor Secretary Alex Acosta – that Acosta and other attorneys with whom he worked at the US attorneys office of South Florida violated federal law when they sealed Epstein’s plea deal, preventing any of his victims from challenging the deal, the Miami Herald reported.
The lawsuit was originally brought in 2008 after Epstein started serving his term. He was released in 2009. But is only now being resolved following renewed interest in the case following a series of reports in the Herald about how the wealthy and well-connected Epstein – who allegedly ferried Bill Clinton and actor Kevin Spacey to his “Orgy Island” aboard his plane, which has been termed “the Lolita Express” – received such a lenient sentence for offenses that some said should have elicited federal sex trafficking charges.
Marra agreed, saying that while prosecutors had the right to resolve the case in any way they saw fit, they violated the law by hiding the agreement from Epstein’s victims. Marra’s decision capped 11 years of litigation — which included the release of a trove of emails showing how Acosta and other prosecutors worked with Epstein’s high profile lawyers to conceal the deal — and the scope of Epstein’s crimes — from both his victims and the public.
“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,” Marra wrote. “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.’”
Given that the determination was made in a civil court opinion, Acosta won’t be facing any charges. But the ruling is certainly a black eye for his legacy as US attorney. But White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the administration would be “looking into” Acosta’s role in the plea deal.
In the opinion, the judge determined that Epstein helped recruit underage girls “for his own sexual gratification, but also for the sexual gratification of others”. (more…)