A federal judge ruled Thursday that federal prosecutors, including current Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, broke the law by making a plea deal with Jeffrey Epstein — who was accused of molesting numerous girls — without conferring with his victims.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra said prosecutors violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA) when they signed the plea more than a decade ago. The law guarantees victims a series of rights, including the right to confer with prosecutors.
“Under the facts of this case, once the Government failed to advise the victims about its intention to enter into the [plea agreement], a violation of the CVRA occurred,” Marra wrote.
Epstein was offered a plea deal sentencing him to 13 months in jail after he was accused of sex trafficking. The deal also gave Epstein and his co-conspirators immunity from federal prosecution.
Acosta was a U.S. attorney in Miami at the time and helped negotiate the plea deal.
In the ruling, Marra wrote that in addition to concealing the plea agreement, prosecutors misled victims to “believe that federal prosecution was still a possibility.”
“When the Government gives information to victims, it cannot be misleading,” Marra wrote. “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 ruling comes after the Miami Herald reported a three-part series last year detailing the agreement between prosecutors and Epstein’s attorneys.
The Department of Justice has since launched an investigation into prosecutors’ handling of the deal.
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