The Miami Herald’s extraordinary series “Perversion of Justice” reveals that Palm Beach hedge-fund manager and sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein was not the only one who committed sick and twisted acts in the early 2000s. The actions of members of the criminal justice system who should have sought justice for the scores of young girls who were
Epstein’s victims were equally depraved.
And when the white-hot rage unleashed by the three-part series subsides — somewhat — this much is clear: Alexander Acosta, who was the federal prosecutor for the Southern District of Florida at the time, is not fit to serve as attorney general of the United States. Acosta is said to be among those being considered to replace recently fired Jeff Sessions. But anyone reading the Herald’s investigations will see how Acosta’s shameful actions deem him far from qualified to be the highest law-enforcement officer in the land. Even as labor secretary, he is ethically compromised.
When word finally reached Palm Beach police of Epstein’s criminal behavior, Acosta bent over backwards, at the request — then the insistence — of Epstein’s high-powered lawyers, to ensure the millionaire, then 54, received minimum jail time and even less publicity. Worse, Acosta appears to have violated federal law by keeping the deal a secret. Epstein’s young victims were never notified of the agreement. Therefore, they never had a chance to challenge it in front of a judge.
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As we said, depraved.
And the hard work of local law enforcement and the FBI, who were investigating an ever-lengthening trail of young Jane Does beyond Florida state line? It all came to an end. It is imperative that the FBI resuscitate its investigation, with the possibility, however difficult, that the entire case be reopened.
Until this newspaper’s comprehensive investigation, Epstein’s sexual compulsion for teenage girls barely into adolescence — briefly revealed with his arrest back in 2005 — had been blocked from public scrutiny. Acosta, now President Trump’s U.S labor secretary, committed a stunning betrayal of those young girls, now adults, many of who were willing to talk on the record.
According to the Herald series, led by reporter Julie Brown and editor Casey Frank, Acosta, and his assistant prosecutors, buckled under the pressure from a pack of attorneys that Epstein hired, including Jay Lefkowitz, a former Acosta colleague; Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, Jack Goldberger, Roy Black, former U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis, Gerald Lefcourt and Kenneth Starr.
Epstein was accused of assembling a large, cult-like network of underage girls — with the help of women who were “recruiters” — to coerce into performing sex acts at Epstein’s pink mansion in Palm Beach, local police found. “He was insatiable, it was always, “Get me more girls, get me more girls,” said one of his victims who became a recruiter.
He made the girls massage him, watch him masturbate and allow him to penetrate them. Many of the girls, poor or from troubled homes, were lured to the mansion by the money. He would pay them $200. “Back then, that was a lot of money; today that’s a lot of money,” said one of his victims.
And on his private plane, Epstein, whose friends included former President Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Prince Andrew, was also suspected of trafficking minor girls, often from overseas, for sex parties at his homes in Manhattan, New Mexico and the Caribbean, FBI and court records show.
Epstein’s “Dream Team” called the shots. Acosta’s acquiescence simply continued the nightmare for the young victims by denying them a day in court. Epstein, who allegedly fondled, digitally raped or sexually assaulted up to 100 Jane Does, got a sweet deal. Any other prolific sex offender would have been thrown in prison, possibly for life. Epstein, thanks to Acosta, served 13 months in the relatively comfy Palm Beach County Jail — not a state or federal prison — which he was allowed to leave and go to his office for 12 hours a day, a departure from the sheriff’s usual policy..
Acosta agreed to a “non-prosecution clause” in the 2008 deal. The agreement was sealed so that no one — especially not Epstein’s victims — would know the full extent of his crimes or who was involved. Unbelievable.
At his confirmation hearing to become labor secretary, Acosta answered questions about the Epstein case, but failed to reveal the deal he had crafted. At the time, the Herald Editorial Board supported him for the post. At this time, we cannot. We are not convinced that he can pursue human-trafficking with the dogged commitment necessary, not when his Epstein deal shut down investigations into the possibility of that very same crime.
The Miami Herald is suing for the release of court records in New York, records the court should turn over to the newspaper so that the scope of Epstein’s crimes in other parts of the country can be further gauged.
The Epstein case is another example of a powerful, arrogant man believing that his money and influence can be used to raise him above the law.
In this instance, unfortunately, another powerful man, who swore to uphold the law, pretty much proved him right.