The story behind a Palm Beach sex offender’s remarkable deal
The Miami Herald’s “Perversion of Justice’‘ won first place in investigative reporting and “best of show” in the 85th annual National Headliner Awards competition, announced Monday.
The series detailed how a wealthy New York hedge fund manager who molested and trafficked underage girls was able to manipulate federal and state prosecutors into giving him and others involved in his crimes immunity from federal prosecution.
Following the reporting, a federal judge ruled that the deal — negotiated by former Miami federal prosecutor Alexander Acosta — was illegal, and the U.S. Department of Justice has opened a probe into whether Acosta, now President Donald Trump’s secretary of labor, committed prosecutorial misconduct.
The series was written by Julie K. Brown, with photos and videos by Emily Michot.
“Once again the judges are in awe of the work by Julie K. Brown of the Miami Herald, a past winner. Her persistence in tracking down the Jane Does years after their violation by a serial pedophile and giving them a voice unleashed a wave of outrage both in Florida and nationally that was felt in the hearing rooms of Congress,’‘ the judges wrote.
Brown also won “best in show” for newspapers in 2015 for her series on abuse, corruption and suspicious deaths in Florida prisons.
In editorial writing by an individual or a team, the Miami Herald editorial board shared a third place for the “The Invading Sea: Can South Florida be saved?” with the editorial boards of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, The Palm Beach Post and WLRN.
In the international news beat coverage category, Miami Herald staff writer Carol Rosenberg also took third place for “Ramadan Reunion and other Tales from Guantánamo Bay.”
The best of 2018’s newspaper and online winners also included the South Florida Sun Sentinel, which won in spot news, editorial writing, video and public service for its coverage of the Parkland shootings.
“This is a blueprint for how breaking news should be done and it was masterful,’‘ the judges wrote of the Sun Sentinel’s coverage.
Other Florida winners included Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi from the Tampa Bay Times, second place for investigative reporting in a top 20 media market, for their series “Heartbroken,” and Pat Beall of the Palm Beach Post, second place in investigative reporting not in a top 20 market, for “How Florida Ignited the Heroin Epidemic.’‘
The Headliner Awards were founded in 1934 by the Press Club of Atlantic City. It is one of the oldest and largest competitions in the country that recognize journalistic merit in the communications industry. The contest also includes podcast, magazine, broadcast and online categories.
Miami Herald news partner WLRN was recognized with four National Headliner Awards, including second place for its public affairs and documentary show “Sundial,’‘ and for its coverage of the Parkland shootings.