A federal judge ruled on Thursday that President Donald Trump’s Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta, illegally withheld the details of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s plea deal from the victims when Acosta was serving as a federal prosecutor in Miami.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra of Palm Beach County found that not only did evidence demonstrate Epstein paid his workers to “obtain minors not only for his own sexual gratification but also for the sexual gratification of others,” but that Acosta was instrumental in helping the multimillionaire and his unnamed accomplices avoid federal prosecution, as Newsweek reports.
The Miami Herald exposed Acosta’s role in a deal that let Epstein plead guilty to two prostitution charges and serve 13 months in prison, in exchange for immunity from federal prosecution. Acosta gave Epstein’s legal team “unusual freedoms in dictating the terms of the non-prosecution agreement,” the Herald reports. The now-secretary of labor allowed the deal to be sealed, so the victims would not have the chance to object in court, which violates the Crime Victims’ Rights Act. This particular act allows victims to look through the details of possible plea deals with prosecutors.
Acosta and fellow prosecutors gave Epstein this incredibly lax plea deal in spite of 103 “Jane Doe” victims, many of whom were between 13 and 16 when abused, and a multitude of evidence displaying his horrific history of sex trafficking and sexual assault. Oh, and to make matters worse, Acosta is literally the person in charge of overseeing international human trafficking and child labor violations as the U.S. secretary of labor.
In the wake of the Herald’s coverage, two of Epstein’s victims filed a suit saying the prosecutors had broken the Crime Victims’ Rights Act. Marra wrote in his ruling:
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. 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.
Epstein’s case shows once more how men of wealth and influence are given preferential treatment in the U.S. justice system. He was not only a hedge fund manager, but also friends with President Bill Clinton, Donald Trump (who in 2002 told New York magazine, “It is even said that [Epstein] likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side”) and Prince Andrew (himself no stranger to allegations of sex abuse). People like Acosta allow American inequality and injustice to proliferate.