Panel Moves to Unseal Documents in Epstein Sex-Trafficking Case, New Trial Looms

Jeffrey Epstein
Rick Friedman/Getty Images

Jeffrey Epstein has been a free man living in the U.S. Virgin Islands since 2009 when he was released after serving 13 months for state prostitution charges and earning lifelong sex offender status, but women who claim they were part of the wealthy financier’s international sex ring will have their day in court.

The Miami Herald, which along with more than 30 other media groups and some individuals, have asked for all documents in cases against Epstein be made public. And now a federal court of appeals in New York has decided that some documents from a lawsuit an alleged victim filed against him in 2015 will be released if parties opposed to it don’t provide a good reason not to release them by March 19.

Epstein’s former partner turned environmentalist Ghislaine Maxwell is the only party opposed to the release. Emeritus Harvard University professor Alan Dershowitz — who was on Epstein’s defense team and also has been accused of a sexual encounter by a woman allegedly involved in the Epstein operation — and author Michael Cernovich have also called for Epstein case-related documents to be released.

Alex Acosta, who is now the Secretary of Labor in the Trump administration, is also under scrutiny because he was the United States attorney for the Southern District of Florida in 2007. Acosta did not refer Epstein’s case to federal authorities and accepted a plea deal that allowed Epstein to face two state charges on prostitution and serve just 13 months in limited detention. The deal also required him to be a registered sex offender.

Acosta has defended his decision, including during his confirmation hearing to be Labor Secretary.

And now a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit said the summary judgment and other documents in a lawsuit Virginia Roberts Giuffre brought against Epstein for allegedly sexually abusing her and other underage girls.

The case was settled in 2017 before it was litigated just as several other alleged victim’s suits against Epstein were settled, according to the Herald.

The Herald’s reporting includes several videos, some of which feature several women now in the 30s sharing graphic details of how Epstein abused them and dozens of other girls, most of whom were disadvantaged or runaways and were lured into the alleged sex trafficking operation with financial rewards.

The Herald also said a civil trial against Epstein will get underway on December 4 offering his alleged victims to testify — something they were denied after 2008 plea deal was made without their input.

But some people involved in the Epstein case are defending him. Four of the attorneys on Epstein’s defense team  — Kenneth W. Starr, Martin G. Weinberg, Jack Goldberger, and Lilly Ann Sanchez — wrote an op-ed last weekend in the New York Times to respond to an editorial the newspaper wrote slamming Acosta for being “cowardly” for making the Epstein plea deal.

The op-ed said, in part:

That agreement was reviewed at multiple levels of the Justice Department. An agreement rather than a trial is how over 97 percent of federal cases get resolved, through negotiations by two teams of experienced professionals. The case lacked the credible and compelling proof that is required by federal criminal statutes.

That the guilty plea was required in a state, not federal, court reflected the absence of evidence that Mr. Epstein used the internet, traveled to a location away from his home for the purpose of having illegal sex, commercially trafficked women to others, engaged in force, fraud or coercion, used drugs or alcohol to entice young women who came to his house to exchange sexual massages for money, possessed child pornography or in other ways violated federal law.

The number of young women involved in the investigation has been vastly exaggerated, there was no “international sex-trafficking operation” and there was never evidence that Mr. Epstein “hosted sex parties” at his home.

The op-ed concluded that Epstein has served his sentence, paid many financial settlements and “is entitled to finality like every other defendant.”

The Department of Justice is also now reexamining the Epstein case, according to the Herald.

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