Days after an appeals court panel ordered the unsealing of thousands of pages of documents from one of the civil suits arising from billionaire Jeffrey Epstein's secret sweetheart plea bargain that allowed him to escape any serious penalties for years of alleged trafficking and raping of young teens, he has been arrested by the FBI-NYPD Crimes Against Children Task Force and now faces charges related to dozens of sex offenses against young girls.
The billionaire traded evidence in an undisclosed crime (thought to be the financial frauds of Bear-Sterns, where he had worked, and who later lost a reported $57 million of his fortune during their collapse) for a light sentence in a minimum-security prison, which he was able to leave most days on a work-release program. The deal was kept secret from Epstein's victims, which is itself illegal. The prosecutor who brokered the deal, Alexander Acosta, is now Trump's labor secretary.
Epstein faces up to 45 years in prison. As The Daily Beast reports, "The case is being handled by the Public Corruption Unit of the Southern District of New York, with assistance from the district's human-trafficking officials and the FBI." Details of the case are expected to be unsealed on Monday.
Epstein is connected to many powerful people, some of whom, like Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, got rides on the private jet Epstein is accused of using as part of an international sex-trafficking conspiracy. One of Epstein's lawyers is Harvard law prof Alan Dershowitz, who is accused of sexually assaulting a woman who says she was trafficked by Epstein when she was a teenager. Dershowitz denies the claim.
The alleged victims, who sued the government for violating the Crime Victims' Rights Act, asked the court to rescind Epstein's non-prosecution agreement and called for the feds to hold him criminally liable. The NPA also granted immunity to Epstein's co-conspirators, identified in the document as "including but not limited to Sarah Kellen, Adriana Ross, Lesley Groff, or Nadia Marcinkova."
But in June, prosecutors for the government advised the judge to uphold the plea deal, saying that voiding it would "cause unintended harm to many of" the victims and jeopardize monetary settlements that more than a dozen of them received.
"If today's report is true, it only proves that Epstein should have been charged by federal prosecutors 12 years ago in Florida. With his money, Epstein was able to buy more than a decade of delay in facing justice—but fortunately he wasn't able to postpone justice forever," said attorney Paul Cassell, who represents multiple victims of Epstein in their lawsuit against the federal government.
"While New York prosecutors are apparently seeking to hold Epstein accountable, the fight will continue to force federal prosecutors in Florida to do the same thing," Cassell added in a statement. "While Epstein was at the head of the international sex trafficking organization, that conspiracy could not have functioned without many others playing their part. Jane Doe 1 and 2 will continue to fight for all of Epstein's co-conspirators to be held accountable in New York, Florida, and anywhere else they committed crimes."
Jeffrey Epstein Arrested for Sex Trafficking of Minors [Pervaiz Shallwani, Kate Briquelet and Harry Siegel/The Daily Beast]