WEST PALM BEACH (CN) - Investment manager Jeffrey Epstein admitted Tuesday that he pursued a years-long frivolous civil case to stymie an attorney's quest to hold him accountable for victimizing underage girls in a Palm Beach Island sex-massage ring.
As part of a settlement in a nearly decade-long stretch of litigation, Epstein admitted to and apologized for dragging attorney Bradley Edwards to court on false claims that he participated in a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme.
Epstein said he lodged the false claims in retaliation for an aggressive investigation conducted by Edwards, who was representing a handful of clients who accused Epstein of sexual misconduct.
One of Edwards' clients, L.M., was 14 years old when Epstein lured her into joining his stable of private sensual masseuses. His massage sessions with L.M. and other teenage girls at his Palm Beach mansion frequently devolved into Epstein pleasuring himself, groping them and engaging in other sexual acts.
Epstein's apology was entered into the Palm Beach County court record Tuesday, though Epstein was not in attendance.
"The lawsuit I filed was my unreasonable attempt to damage [Edwards'] business reputation and cause Mr. Edwards to stop pursuing cases against me. It did not work. Despite my efforts, he continued to do an excellent job for his clients and, through his relentless pursuit, held me responsible," the apology reads.
Edwards characterized the lawsuit as such nearly ten years ago. In the first incarnation of his malicious prosecution countersuit, he said the Virgin Islands investment tycoon filed the case "for the sole purpose of further attempting to intimidate Edwards, L.M. and others into abandoning or settling their legitimate claims for less than their just and reasonable value."
Epstein's Dec. 4 settlement and apology to Edwards came on the day Edwards' malicious-prosecution action against Epstein was set to go to trial. If the action had been tried, victim testimony along with detailed accounts of Epstein's sex massage sessions would likely have inundated media coverage nationwide, as they did years ago.
Though the 2006 criminal case against Epstein initially involved charges of lewd-and-lascivious molestation and unlawful sexual activity with minors, he secured a controversial plea deal on lesser charges.
Jack Scarola of the law firm of Searcy Denney, who has been representing Edwards, said Tuesday's settlement will allow him and Edwards to focus on a separate civil case, in which they're challenging the alleged sweetheart plea deal under the Crime Victims' Rights Act.
"That unusual deal not only granted Jeffrey Epstein immunity from federal prosecution for potentially hundreds of sexual offenses against minors, but also gave 'get-out-of-jail free cards' to all of Epstein’s unnamed co-conspirators," Scarola's firm said in a statement. "Mr. Edwards filed the Crime Victims’ Rights Act case in 2008, after the Federal Government secretly negotiated that plea agreement with Jeffrey Epstein without providing the legally-required notice to his victims."
According to a report in The Hill, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other lawmakers are asking the Department of Justice's Inspector General to conduct an inquiry into Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta's role in arranging the plea bargain during his time as a federal prosecutor.
Epstein ultimately served little more than a year in prison. He was allowed to leave his cell and go to work while serving out his term.
Once he was released, he set about pursuing the unfounded litigation against Edwards. Epstein named one of his victims, L.M., as a defendant at the outset.
As Epstein now admits, the lawsuit levied unsubstantiated allegations that Edwards actively participated in attorney and Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein's massive investment fraud, whereby Rothstein would sell fake structured settlement rights to unwitting investors. Epstein falsely claimed Edwards was helping Rothstein market bogus settlement rights involving sex abuse claims against Epstein.
Rothstein is serving a 50-year prison sentence for his estimated $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme. Edwards worked for Rothstein's firm for a short stretch in 2009, but was not implicated in Rothstein's misdeeds.
The financial terms of Edwards' settlement with Epstein remain confidential.
According to court documents, Edwards almost lost the malicious prosecution case against Epstein in 2014 when a Palm Beach County circuit court judge granted summary judgment in favor of the money manager.
But the Fourth District Court of Appeal overturned that decision, sending the case back to the circuit court, where the litigation finally came to an end with the Tuesday settlement.
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