Government Turns Its Back on Billionaire’s Sex-abuse Victims

Press Herald
July 6, 2019

Private lawyers allowed sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein to escape justice. Epstein’s new defense team works for the federal government.

Billionaire money manager Jeffrey Epstein, center, in 2008, could have faced life in prison if federal prosecutors had pursued sex-crimes charges against him. Tribune News Service/Uma Sanghvi, The Palm Beach Post

The U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia claimed last week that even though prosecutors in South Florida broke the law when they approved an outrageously light sentence for Epstein, the deal must stand. Byung Pak may not actually be on Epstein’s legal team, but he has placed the Department of Justice on Epstein’s side.

To review, Epstein is a billionaire money manager whose friends include President Trump, former President Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew. Between 1998 and 2006, Epstein recruited roughly three dozen underage girls – generally from poor and troubled families – to his house in Palm Beach and sexually abused them.

Epstein could have faced federal sex trafficking charges. He could have faced life in prison. Instead, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida – Alex Acosta, now Trump’s labor secretary – gave Epstein immunity on federal charges and allowed him to plead guilty to minor state charges. Then-Palm Beach County State Attorney Barry Krischer went along. Epstein served 13 months in jail – he was allowed out about half the time – and had to register with the state as a sex offender.

Prosecutors never told the victims about the agreement. Until the signing of that odious agreement in 2007, the girls believed the FBI was still investigating.

Two victims challenged the deal, which applied not just to Epstein, but also to those who recruited the girls and joined in the abuse. Last February, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra ruled that prosecutors had violated the Crime Victims Rights Act. In criticizing the government, Marra noted, “Epstein worked in concert with others to obtain minors not only for his own sexual gratification, but also for the sexual gratification of others.”

Marra then asked attorneys for both sides how he should correct this violation. Pak got the case because Acosta’s old office had to recuse itself.

Pak’s idea? The victims could “confer in private” with prosecutors about the deal. Prosecutors could get more training in how to consult with victims, he proposes, but the deal stands – the victims don’t deserve even an apology.

Pak argues that the Crime Victims Rights Act contains no provision for undoing the non-prosecution agreement, which is what the victims want. Doing so, Pak claims, could violate separation of powers.

That sounds like a warning to Marra – one he should ignore. Prosecutorial discretion doesn’t matter when the action in question breaks the law. Even Pak acknowledges repeatedly that it happened.

The government, he writes, “should have communicated with the victims in a straightforward and transparent way.” Pak “regrets that the manner in which (the government) communicated the resolution of the Epstein case to the victims fell short.” Prosecutors could have communicated “more clearly and directly” with the victims.”

None of that happened because Acosta, Krischer and Epstein’s lawyers didn’t want the deal to become public. The victims might have gone public with their complaints. Media coverage could have killed the deal.

Indeed, the record reflects the lengths to which Acosta and Krischer sought secrecy. Acosta drove from Miami to West Palm Beach to meet with Epstein attorney Jay Lefkowitz. Krischer wrote to a federal prosecutor, “Glad we could get this worked out for reasons I won’t put in writing.”

We acknowledge that Pak didn’t create this mess. But his argument insults the public and reflects badly on the Department of Justice.

“The resolution in this case,” Pak writes, “has led some to conclude that the government chose for improper reasons not to prosecute Epstein, a conclusion that remains unsubstantiated.” That’s because the principals have been able to avoid talking about it for more than a decade.

Acosta ducked the issue during his confirmation hearings in April 2017. Last November, The Miami Herald ran a series on the case that featured interviews with victims who agreed to be identified. Acosta refused to comment. So did Krischer.

Some might argue that the victims have received money from civil lawsuits and should move on. But can there be a price for what Epstein and his accomplices did to these women? How many other victims are there? Why should a man who once faced a 52-page indictment be able to resume a life of privilege?

“While the Court cannot unwind the past,” Pak argues, “the remedies proposed by the government would give the victims a meaningful opportunity to have their voices heard and to understand, if not accept, the decisions made in this matter.”

Unacceptable is right. The victims’ lawyers will file their responses soon. They should ask Marra to void the agreement.








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