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Florida lawmaker calls for congressional investigation into accused sex predator Jeffrey Epstein

Posted: 2:35 PM, Aug 01, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-01 18:11:12-04
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U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) has teamed up with the Democratic Women's Caucus to demand a congressional investigation into wealthy Palm Beach financier Jeffrey Epstein, including his time spent under the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office watch more than a decade ago.

Rep. Frankel told Contact 5 on Tuesday she wants the House Oversight and Reform Committee to look at "everything that happened with Epstein, and his 'slap on the wrist.'"

Rep. Frankel said that includes the 2008 non-prosecution agreement orchestrated by former Labor Secretary Alex Acosta that protected Epstein from being charged federally in Florida, and the benefits he received from PBSO while on work release in Palm Beach County.

The Democratic congresswoman said Epstein's alleged victims and the public deserve answers they were never given.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: The Jeffrey Epstein Case

"Jeffrey Epstein is a sexual predator," said Rep. Frankel on Thursday. "It is a disgrace that after molesting dozens and dozens of young girls and sexually abusing them, that he in essence got a slap on the wrist."

Rep. Frankel and other leaders want an investigation into how Epstein was allowed to make a federal deal with Acosta that stopped all investigations into his alleged sex trafficking here in Florida.

The congresswoman also wants federal investigators to look at Epstein's time in Palm Beach County under the watch of the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

While serving his jail sentence more than a decade ago, Epstein was allowed to be on work release outside of his jail cell six days a week. Contact 5 discovered he was allowed to spend hours in his home unsupervised during that time.

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Although Epstein was being investigated by Palm Beach County for sexual battery, he made a controversial 2008 plea bargain with then-State Attorney Barry Krischer, which let him serve just 13 months in jail on two state prostitution charges.

"This is not just a focus on the sheriff. We want to find out what happened. What was the power? What was the money? What influenced the decisions for this slap on the wrist," said Rep. Frankel.

While Rep. Frankel said she's in the process of drafting this request to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, State Sen. Lauren Book, who has called for a state investigation into the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, is keeping her calls for a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation going.

Sen. Book said she has generated and continues to generate thousands of signatures to a petition demanding the state investigation, which she is planning to drop off at the governor's office.

Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he would look into whether the state should get involved. Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said his agency is currently conducting a criminal and internal investigation into the actions of deputies while Epstein was on work release. Sheriff Bradshaw is the one who oversaw and approved the work release.

Epstein is currently being held in jail on federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges in New York. He's pleaded not guilty to those charges, and is accused of abusing dozens of underage girls between 2002 and 2005.

Earlier this week, a judge set Epstein's tentative trial date for June of 2020.