Judge Pushes Back Deadline for Epstein Sex Trafficking Victims’ Case

A federal judge has pushed back a deadline in a case against Jeffrey Epstein, a wealthy Florida financier convicted of prostitution charges who now may face new litigation from women who claim to have been a part of a sex trafficking operation of underage girls in the early 2000s.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra allowed the extension on Thursday, the Association Press (AP) reported, and the report included Labor Secretary Alex Acosta’s connection to the case.

Marra ruled last month that former Miami U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta’s prosecutors violated the victims’ rights by secretly reaching a 2008 nonprosecution agreement with Epstein. Under the agreement, Epstein pleaded guilty to state charges, spent 13 months in jail, paid settlements to victims and became a registered sex offender.

After President Donald Trump nominated Acosta, he said that the agreement was appropriate to make sure Epstein was convicted and spent some time behind bars. The deal also required Epstein, 66, to register as a sex offender.

“At the end of the day, based on the evidence, professionals within a prosecutor’s office decided that a plea that guarantees someone goes to jail, that guarantees he register generally [as a sexual predator] and guarantees other outcomes, is a good thing,” Acosta said at his 2017 Senate confirmation hearing.

The Miami Herald conducted an investigation into the Epstein case and concluded it “revealed how Acosta and other prosecutors worked in concert with Epstein’s high-powered lawyers to curtail the criminal investigation in order to cut a secret plea bargain.”

The Herald, along with filmmaker Mike Cernovich, and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz — who was on Epstein’s defense team — have asked for the sealed documents in the case to be released to allow the truth about Epstein’s misdeeds, efforts to help him, and the nature of the abuse his victims suffered become public knowledge. 

The Daily Beast reported on court proceedings in the victims’ rights case that took place on Wednesday:

Paul Cassell, who represents Virginia Roberts Giuffre, told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that the testimony of other witnesses will show Dershowitz’s involvement in the alleged trafficking of “his close friend Jeffrey Epstein.”

“When all the records come out it will show that Epstein and [Epstein’s alleged madam Ghislaine] Maxwell were trafficking girls to the benefit of his friends, including Mr. Dershowitz,” Cassell said in oral arguments for a case filed by the Miami Herald to unseal a collection of court documents relating to Giuffre’s now settled lawsuit against Maxwell.

The hearing came nearly two weeks after a Florida judge ruled federal prosecutors violated the law when they inked a non-prosecution deal with Epstein in 2007—and concealed that agreement from more than 30 of Epstein’s victims. The Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the secret deal, which was handled by Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta, who was U.S. Attorney in Miami at the time.

Dershowitz and his lawyers said the release of the documents would prove his innocence, according to the Daily Beast.

The Daily Beast reported that a number of other organizations have filed a brief in support of the Herald’s document release request, including Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the Associated Press Media Editors, Politico, Fox Television Stations, and the Washington Post.

The brief said:

Contrary to the district court’s concern that public access to the Summary Judgment Documents will serve only to ‘promote scandal,’ access will provide the public and the press with information key to their understanding of this litigation, which relates to allegations of serial sexual assault and abuse of minors by convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, and has implicated high-level public officials and public figures.

The public interest in the case “is particularly acute due to the variety of public figures and public officials who are alleged to be connected to Jeffrey Epstein and his victims,” …. “such as President Donald Trump, former-President Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and Alan Dershowitz,” the brief said.

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