Jeffrey Epstein, a politically connected Palm Beach multimillionaire accused of molesting scores of underage girls starting in the early 2000s, on Tuesday issued a written public apology to end a lawsuit.
But let’s be clear. Epstein wasn’t directing his apology to the now-grown women whose lives he derailed when he lured them to his waterfront mansion as teens to give him massages for $200 a pop.
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And that’s a shame. He still owes all of them an apology, an acknowledgment of his depraved behavior.
But these abused women, who had turned to the judicial system for recourse, also are owed an explanation from former Miami-based U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta. He cut Epstein a huge and unmerited break.
Maybe Acosta can include his reasoning in his resignation letter as U.S. Labor Secretary, which he should submit immediately to President Trump.
Last week, as the Miami Herald detailed Epstein’s wrongdoing, we wrote that Acosta, who was said to be on the list of possible replacements for fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions, was ethically compromised by his action here a decade ago.
Now, as more unbelievable details have emerged in reporter Julie Brown’s extensive, year-long probe, we are recommending that Acosta resign his current position for allowing a rich, powerful, politically connected man to avoid justice and get off easy — and also for having no qualms about denying all the women victimized by Epstein the justice they had every right to expect.
Worse yet, Acosta made the deal with the devil Epstein, then tried to hide the fact of the settlement — ultimately, 13 months in the county jail — from the victims. How squirrelly. A poorer man who had abused scores of underage girls would have received little mercy and a far harsher sentence, and deservedly so.
What Acosta did when the Epstein case landed on his desk is reprehensible in the pre- and post- #MeToo era.
Epstein was cut from the same cloth as movie mogul Harvey Weinstein: tainted by compulsion to have sex with women, whether they wanted it or not. He used assistants to lure the girls from poor or troubled homes to his lair with the promise of cash. With his cash in hand, he robbed a young person of any agency over their own bodies.
Then Acosta came along and said, Hey, that’s OK. We can make a deal and then let’s move on.
But those victims couldn’t move on, of course.
And here’s where Brown’s dogged reporting must be praised. While other journalists tackled the Epstein case in the last years, including detailing the lawsuit settled this week where Epstein had to apologize for falsely smearing victims’ attorney Bradley Edwards — Brown dug deeper than anyone else and is the only reporter to interview so many of the victims. And that’s what makes her reporting powerful and unique.
Though the unemployment rate has gone down under Acosta, we are concerned that he might be practicing the same disregard for people and the human condition that he displayed in the Epstein case. We worry because he has authority to investigate human trafficking cases, notorious for sexual abuse.
Acosta is now damaged goods. He should realize it and move on. He does not deserve to be in the halls of power — he abused his power so tragically.