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The Epstein Affair: Take #2

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

In November 2018, The Miami Herald published Julia K. Brown’s revealing exposé, “Perversion of Justice,” revealing Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual exploits.

She reported that Epstein, a purported billionaire, sexually abused nearly three dozen girls – some estimates are around 100 — mostly 13-16 years old at his Palm Beach mansion between 1999 to 2006.  (He apparently also carried out his sex-trafficking liaisons in his Manhattan mansion and on a private Caribbean island.)

Joseph Recarey, the lead Palm Beach detective on the case, claimed Epstein was essentially operating a “sexual pyramid scheme.”

Alexander Acosta, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida and then Miami’s top federal prosecutor,oversaw the case.  In 2007, FBI prepared a 53-page sex crimes indictment for Epstein that could have sent him to prison for life.  Instead of facing charges of sex trafficking, he pleaded guilty to two minor charges of solicitation of prostitution and procurement of minors for prostitution. Epstein was represented by Ken Starr (who famously prosecuted Bill Clinton) and Alan Dershowitz (a leading Trump attorney).

Epstein’s lawyers and Acosta’s team cut a secret plea deal in 2008 that allowed Epstein to serve just 13 months of an 18-month prison sentence — not in federal or state prison, but in a private wing of a Palm Beach county jail.  He was also granted work release to go to a “comfortable office” for 12 hours a day, six days a week, despite the fact that the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Department prohibited work release for sex offenders.

Epstein’s secret deal is called a “non-prosecution agreement” and granted immunity to “any potential co-conspirators” so that any of Epstein’s friends and associates – for example, Trump, Clinton, Dershowitz, Prince Andrew and Kevin Spacey — would not face any consequences. Perhaps most troubling, the deal blocked victims and the public for accessing court documents.

For a job well done, Acosta now serves as Trump’s secretary of labor.

This year, the Epstein case has slowly come out from the shadows and gained momentum due to two factors.  First, the seriousness of the apparent injustice at the heart of plea deal; and, second, it represents yet another example of the questionable practices of Trump’s Cabinet members.

In February 2019, US District Judge Kenneth A. Marra found that the deal violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA) that guarantees victims the right to speak with prosecutors.  He noted that the federal prosecutors failed to inform Epstein’s 30-plus accusers — most of whom were girls 13 to 16 years old — about the terms of the arrangement.

In June 2019, William Barr’s Department of Justice rejected the Marra effort to throw out the plea deal and prosecute Epstein for abusing dozens of underage girls.  In the 35-page motion, filed in federal court in the Northern District of Georgia, federal prosecutors said that there is no legal basis to invalidate Epstein’s non-prosecution agreement.

In late June, the case heated up when the New York federal appeals court ordered the unsealing some 2,000 pages of original trial documents.  The documents revealed hundreds of emails showing how Acosta and other prosecutors worked with Epstein’s legal team to conceal the deal from victims and the public.

And now we have the actions by the FBI – working with NYPD Crimes Against Children Task Force – to arrest and now indict Epstein for actions that took place in New York.  Latest NYC media reports claim the police raided Epstein’s mansion at 9 East 71st Street and found hundreds of photos of what appeared to be underage girls.

Now, we wait for the second shoe to fall:

+ When will Congress investigate Acosta and Epstein’s lawyers, Starr and Dershowitz?

+ Who else among Epstein’s celebrity pack will be outed for rape and/or sexual abuse of underage girls? Allegations have been raised against Dershowitz; who is next?

+ What will Trump say about his old friend Epstein?  Trump once famously said, “I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”

+ And when will Acosta resign his Cabinet position, claim he has to take care of his sick puppy?

Lost amidst the media field-day coverage of Epstein’s bust, indictment and raid are any considerations of the bigger political game playing out.  If Epstein is such a player, why was he not warned in advance as to the planned arrest when he landed at the Teterboro airport?  Does Epstein’s bust – and likely prosecution in New York – signal a split between AG Barr and Trump?  What else is really going on?

Sadly, also missing from the media hype of yet another all-American sex scandal is a consideration of the young girls who were victims of Epstein’s sex-trafficking operation.  From video interviews and news reports, it seems that many (if not most) of them were working-class or poor teenage girls innocently looking to have fun and make some money. When will they get their justice?

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David Rosen is the author of Sex, Sin & Subversion:  The Transformation of 1950s New York’s Forbidden into America’s New Normal (Skyhorse, 2015).  He can be reached at drosennyc@verizon.net; check out www.DavidRosenWrites.com.

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