WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel called for a congressional investigation on Tuesday into a 2008 plea deal for wealthy Palm Beach billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.
Rep. Frankel held a news conference at at the Federal Courthouse in West Palm Beach. She was joined by Jack Scarola, a South Florida attorney representing Epstein’s alleged victims.
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"Epstein’s victims deserve justice and the public needs to know why a prolific child molester got a slap on the wrist instead of a long prison sentence," said Rep. Frankel.
The congresswoman requested that the House Oversight and Reform and Judiciary Committees investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding Epstein’s plea deal in order to seek justice for Epstein's alleged victims.
"Persons with relevant information should be questioned under oath and survivors should be given a forum to be heard if they so desire," said Rep. Frankel.
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A medical examiner determined Epstein died by suicide on Aug. 10 when he hanged himself inside his jail cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center.
Epstein, who was accused of sexually abusing numerous underage girls between 2002 and 2005 in New York and Palm Beach, had been placed on suicide watch in late July after he was found on his cell floor with bruising on his neck.
Between 2008 and 2009, Epstein, who was a convicted sex offender after pleading guilty to solicitation of a minor, was allowed to leave his cell in the Palm Beach County Jail six days a week, for 12 hours a day.
WPTV Contact 5 Investigators uncovered that Epstein was allowed to get picked up by his private driver, sometimes in a limo, and go to his office in downtown West Palm Beach, without a deputy following.
PBSO told WPTV not to "forget he had a GPS monitor," but Contact 5 uncovered logs showing issues with the GPS monitor.
Under the rules of the work release program, a deputy was assigned to "remain in the office with [Epstein] at all times." But deputy logs show Epstein was escorted to his home by deputies at least nine times.
In addition, deputies left him in his home unsupervised for up to three hours sometimes, despite the fact that agency rules stated Epstein "is not to leave his designated workplace for any reason, with the exception of returning to the PBSO stockade, or for emergency medical treatment."
The hedge fund manager's guilty plea was part of a 2008 non-prosecution deal which kept Epstein out of federal prison as part of a sex trafficking investigation.