This should have been resolved a decade ago, when Epstein seemed enroute to a federal prison for allegedly sexually abusing dozens of minor girls at his Palm Beach mansion. He skirted federal prosecution in 2008 when Alex Acosta — then U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and now U.S. Labor secretary — stunningly declined to pursue a federal prosecution and allowed Epstein to plead guilty to lesser state prostitution charges. Acosta’s pathetic reasoning for buckling — that Epstein brought to town a superstar defense team including former Baylor president Kenneth Starr — was unfitting of any prosecutor.
Epstein served only 13 months of an incredibly lenient 18-month sentence in a Palm Beach jail — an inexplicable sweetheart deal that permitted him to spend 12 hours a day at an office, six days a week, as part of his work-release privileges and provide him immunity from federal prosecution for his sordid activities in Florida. Not until aggressive investigative reporting last November by The Miami Herald exposed the lenient deal and identified about 80 women who said Epstein molested or sexually abused them did this new look at the case pick up steam.
For us, however, there is a clear takeaway. Victims didn’t get justice, or even their day in court, having been illegally kept in the dark about the plea deal. And it is this sort of malfeasance and indifference that makes it difficult for girls to come forward with the expectation that they will be treated as victims, not criminals, too.
We’ll probably never know for certain how many girls Epstein molested or allowed to be molested. But it is impossible for anyone with a heart and a sound mind not look at this episode with disgust and righteous indignation.
Sex traffickers ruin victims’ lives, and get away with their perverted atrocities whenever johns fuel demand and the legal system treats sex trafficking victims insensitively. This happens too often every day across the nation. It must end now.