Inside The Sex Trafficking Charges Against Jeffrey Epstein

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United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman speaks during a news conference, in New York, Monday, July 8, 2019. Federal prosecutors announced sex trafficking and conspiracy charges against wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein. (Richard Drew/AP)
United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman speaks during a news conference, in New York, Monday, July 8, 2019. Federal prosecutors announced sex trafficking and conspiracy charges against wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein. (Richard Drew/AP)

With Jane Clayson

How is it that a multimillionaire got a sweetheart deal for sex crimes? New charges are bringing up old questions about Jeffrey Epstein.


Julie Brown, Miami Herald investigative reporter, and the reporter behind the paper’s groundbreaking series, "Perversion of Justice." (@jkbjournalist)

Elie Honig, former federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York. CNN legal analyst. (@eliehonig)

From The Reading List

Miami Herald: "How a future Trump Cabinet member gave a serial sex abuser the deal of a lifetime" — "On a muggy October morning in 2007, Miami’s top federal prosecutor, Alexander Acosta, had a breakfast appointment with a former colleague, Washington, D.C., attorney Jay Lefkowitz.

"It was an unusual meeting for the then-38-year-old prosecutor, a rising Republican star who had served in several White House posts before being named U.S. attorney in Miami by President George W. Bush.

"Instead of meeting at the prosecutor’s Miami headquarters, the two men — both with professional roots in the prestigious Washington law firm of Kirkland & Ellis — convened at the Marriott in West Palm Beach, about 70 miles away. For Lefkowitz, 44, a U.S. special envoy to North Korea and corporate lawyer, the meeting was critical.

"His client, Palm Beach multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein, 54, was accused of assembling a large, cult-like network of underage girls — with the help of young female recruiters — to coerce into having sex acts behind the walls of his opulent waterfront mansion as often as three times a day, the Town of Palm Beach police found."

The New York Times: "The Jeffrey Epstein Case Was Cold, Until a Miami Herald Reporter Got Accusers to Talk" — "Julie K. Brown, an investigative journalist for The Miami Herald, expected to spend the week on the same emotionally brutal endeavor she has pursued for more than two years: interviewing women who say that, as girls, they were part of a sex ring run by the wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein.

"Months ago, she published a meticulously researched series of articles about a secret plea deal, engineered by a current member of President Trump’s cabinet, that helped Mr. Epstein evade federal charges related to the women’s accusations. Her work identified some 80 alleged victims and earned a slew of journalism prizes, including a George Polk Award in the category of Justice Reporting. She worked on the award-winning series with Emily Michot, a visual journalist at The Herald.

"While Mr. Epstein moved about freely, reportedly building a new compound in the Virgin Islands, Ms. Brown continued to dig, accumulating enough documentation to fill a spare bedroom in her Florida home.

"Things changed on Saturday, when Mr. Epstein was arrested at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey after flying in from Paris on his private jet. The Daily Beast and other news outlets reported that he faced sex trafficking charges. Law enforcement officers forced their way into his 21,000-square-foot mansion in Manhattan and found hundreds of photos of nude or partially nude young women and girls."

The Atlantic: "The Jeffrey Epstein Case Is Like Nothing I’ve Seen Before" — "Jeffrey Epstein is accustomed to having an entourage meet his private jet at the airport; he’s just not used to it being made up of FBI agents. Last Saturday, the billionaire and registered sex offender returned from a trip to Paris only to be arrested. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, famously aggressive in pursuing high-profile prosecutions, charged Epstein last week with child sex trafficking in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1591. These new charges represent the Department of Justice’s attempt to redeem a reputation soiled by the extremely questionable plea deal it gave Epstein in 2008.

"In 2006 and 2007, Epstein—once a reliable companion of the well connected—faced extensive, detailed allegations that he paid multiple minors for sexual contact and for their services in procuring other minors. Most people, hammered with that kind of evidence, would spend the rest of their lives in prison. But Epstein could afford the lavish attention of a defense team staffed by legal luminaries such as Alan Dershowitz and Kenneth Starr. Most of us hope an attorney will defend us competently at trial, but the superrich can afford to go on the offense. Epstein’s lawyers hounded the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, which was considering federal charges, based on reports that Epstein had procured underage girls across state lines. Former U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta—now President Donald Trump’s secretary of labor—characterized the tactic as a 'year-long assault on the prosecution and prosecutors,' and complained that Epstein’s team investigated prosecutors and their families, 'looking for personal peccadilloes that may provide a basis for disqualification.'

"The strategy worked. Epstein’s team secured the deal of the millennium, one utterly unlike anything else I’ve seen in 25 years of practicing federal criminal law. Epstein agreed to plead guilty to state charges, register as a sex offender, and spend 13 months in county jail, during which time he was allowed to spend 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, out of the jail on 'work release.' In exchange, the Southern District of Florida abandoned its criminal investigation of Epstein’s conduct, agreed not to prosecute him federally, and—incredibly—agreed not to prosecute anyone else who helped him procure underage girls for sex. This is not normal; it is astounding."

Allison Pohle produced this show for broadcast.

This program aired on July 10, 2019.



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