DOJ Launches Investigation into FBI's Plea Deal for Pedophile Jeffrey Epstein
Justice Department opens probe into deal that allowed billionaire to walk free
The Justice Department has launched an investigation into the controversial plea deal that was given to billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein by the FBI, that allowed him to walk free from charges of sexually abusing over 100 underage girls.
The probe has been launched in response to a request by Senate Judiciary Committee member and Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, who was critical of the case.
Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta, who was the U.S. attorney for Southern Florida at the time, worked hand-in-hand with other DOJ attorneys and defense lawyers to cut a lenient plea deal with multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein in 2008.
Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd said in a letter to Sasse that the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility will head the investigation.
“OPR has now opened an investigation into allegations that department attorneys may have committed professional misconduct in the manner in which the Epstein criminal matter was resolved,’’ wrote Boyd in the letter dated Wednesday.
According to the Maimi Herald, Sasse has been pushing for a DOJ investigation into whether there was any undue influence that tainted the case.
“Jeffrey Epstein is a child rapist and there’s not a single mom or dad in America who shouldn’t be horrified by the fact that he received a pathetically soft sentence,’’ Sasse said on Wednesday.
“The victims of Epstein’s child sex trafficking ring deserve this investigation — and so do the American people and the members of law enforcement who work to put these kinds of monsters behind bars.’’
Former Palm Beach Police Chief Michael Reiter — who pressured Acosta and former Palm Beach state prosecutor Barry Krischer to more aggressively prosecute Epstein — said he would like to see Epstein’s victims finally receive some form of justice.
“I hope that the Department of Justice investigation answers the questions of why this case was handled by the U.S. attorney’s office in the way that it was, and may it somehow result in justice and an apology by the government for the victims and their families,’’ Reiter said.
The case has raised fundamental questions about whether well-connected, wealthy people wield influence over prosecutors and others in the justice system. Epstein had a wide circle of powerful friends, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, Prince Andrew, lawyer Alan Dershowitz and a former prime minister of Israel, Ehud Barak.
“I am in tears that someone is finally listening to our stories. Hopefully, God willing, something happens and they dig into this and do something,’’ said Jena-Lisa Jones who was molested by Epstein when she was 14.
Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department’s inspector general, has urged Congress to allow him to conduct a probe, noting that OPR’s investigations often shield prosecutors accused of wrongdoing.
But Horowitz needs Congress to change the law to give him the power to proceed with what he called a more “independent’’ review of the case.
Epstein, 66, could have faced a possible life sentence for sex trafficking, but instead was secretly granted federal immunity, along with others who were part of the conspiracy, some of whom were named, others not.
Epstein was suspected by the FBI of running an international sex trafficking operation involving minors, and federal prosecutors had drafted a 53-page indictment that was shelved after Acosta signed off on a non-prosecution agreement in September 2007.
For months after the deal was executed, federal prosecutors kept Epstein’s victims in the dark, and the FBI led some of them to believe the investigation was ongoing.
Most of the girls, ages 13 to 16 at the time, found out about the plea bargain only after learning about it on television when Epstein was sentenced in June 2008.
Epstein quietly settled individual civil lawsuits with more than 40 victims, but the girls were subjected to brutal questioning by Epstein’s powerful cadre of lawyers. He also hired private investigators to dig into every aspect of their lives, the Miami Herald found.
In one case, they deposed a girl’s parents and grilled them over an abortion the girl had years before.
Prior to testifying, the girl’s parents, who are Catholic, did not know their daughter had had an abortion.
In interviews with the Herald, several of Epstein’s victims — now in their late 20s and early 30s — said they felt betrayed by both state and federal prosecutors who treated them like prostitutes, even though they were well under the age of consent, which is 18 in Florida.
“I hope that legislators find a way to prohibit prosecutors from labeling children as prostitutes who have no legal ability to consent,’’ Reiter said.