(CN) – The justice system failed more than 30 underage victims of extremely rich and politically connected sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, a federal judge ruled Thursday, finding that multiple ex-prosecutors including President Trump’s labor secretary broke the law by withholding information.
“Particularly problematic was the government’s decision to conceal the existence of the [non-prosecution agreement] and mislead the victims to believe that federal prosecution was still a possibility,” U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra wrote in a passionate opinion.
More than a decade ago, Epstein received an extraordinary plea deal that avoided prosecution on all but one of dozens of credible allegations that he sexually abused and trafficked dozens of teenage girls inside his Florida home.
“Epstein used paid employees to find and bring minor girls to him,” Marra wrote today. “Epstein worked in concert with others to obtain minors not only for his own sexual gratification, but also for the sexual gratification of others.”
In 2008, Epstein received a 13-month sentence in a county jail for solicitation that allowed him work release and granted immunity to his co-conspirators. The victims went to court that year to complain the agreement violated the notifications requirements under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act.
Judge Marra blasted federal prosecutors today for their misdirection.
“When the government gives information to victims, it cannot be misleading,” the 33-page order states. “While the government spent untold hours negotiating the terms and implications of the NPA with Epstein’s attorneys, scant information was shared with victims. Instead, the victims were told to be ‘patient’ while the investigation proceeded.”
The Miami Herald brought the case back to the national forefront of the #MeToo era late last year with its three-part investigative series “Perversion of Justice.”
Calling attention to the case’s ties to the nation’s elite, including U.S. presidents from both parties, the series noted how President Bill Clinton hitched multiple rides on Epstein’s jet to his private island. Trump once called him a “friend” and made a labor secretary of Acosta, who prosecuted Epstein as a U.S. attorney in Miami.
Epstein’s defense attorney Alan Dershowitz would become a fixture of the cable airwaves and deny allegations that he cavorted with his client’s victims.
Marra noted Thursday that the signing of a nonprosecution agreement left the case in the shadows.
“A NPA entered into without notice has a more damaging impact on the victims than a plea agreement entered into without notice,” a footnote to today’s ruling states. “When a plea agreement is entered into without notice, the victims will at least have an opportunity to provide input to a judge at sentencing. Once a NPA is entered into without notice, the matter is closed, and the victims have no opportunity to be heard regarding any aspect of the case.”
Neither the Department of Justice nor a victim’s attorney Bradley Edwards,, from the Fort Lauderdale-based firm Edwards Pottinger, immediately responded to emails seeking comment.
The parties have 15 days to recommend relief for the violation of the statute.