Alleged accomplices of Jeffrey Epstein cannot be federally prosecuted in Florida, after a U.S. District Judge ruled Monday to keep a secret non-prosecution agreement intact, following Epstein's death.
The agreement was negotiated between the U.S. Attorney in Miami and Epstein's attorneys in secret more than a decade ago, keeping Epstein and named/unnamed co-conspirators from being federally prosecuted in Florida.
In February, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra ruled previously that federal prosecutors in Florida violated a victims' rights law when they failed to inform a group of women, who say they were sexually abused by Epstein, about the 2008 deal. Judge Marra's next step was to decide what the alleged victims should receive in return for that violation of their rights. Attorneys for the victims wanted Epstein's alleged accomplices to be federally charged in Florida, among other remedies.
The judge ruled Monday the government would not do that, as it was not authorized by the law, and in the wake of Epstein's death, the non prosecution agreement argument became moot.
He also said the victims are not owed any money for the violation of the Crime Victims' Rights Act. Judge Marra said he felt that while prosecutors, including former US Labor Secretary Alex Acosta violated the Crime Victims' Rights Act, they "did not act in bad faith."
Instead, Judge Marra said the government will do three things:
1. The Department of Justice will designate a representative to meet with Petitioners and other victims to discuss the decision to resolve the Epstein case.
2. The government will participate in a public court proceeding in which Petitioners can make a victim impact statement.
3. All criminal prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida will undergo additional training on the Crime Victims' Rights Act, victim rights, and victim assistance issues.
The judge also declined to award attorneys' fees to the women and denied their request for FBI records related to the Epstein investigation.
Marra credited the women with bringing national attention to victims' rights.
Brad Edwarda and Paul Cassell, attorneys represented some of Epstein's alleged victims, released this statement to WPTV:
"More than 10 years ago, diligent police officers and FBI agents uncovered Jeffrey Epstein’s serious sexual crimes committed against several dozens of children. Rather than prosecute Mr. Epstein and his co-conspirators, prosecutors entered into a secret agreement that gave Mr. Epstein a pass in Florida for abusing those children. Most victims would have let the Government and Mr. Epstein get away with it, and nobody would have ever known about that injustice. However, Courtney Wild, one of Mr. Epstein’s victims, bravely stood up to both Mr. Epstein and the United States Government and sued the Government for violating her rights. Other victims then joined. Earlier this year, Judge Marra ruled that the Government had violated her rights and the rights of Mr. Epstein’s other victims. A month ago Mr. Epstein died. Today, Judge Marra ruled that the CVRA case be closed as a consequence of Mr. Epstein’s death. Courtney, and the other Epstein victims who pursued this important case, should not be sad, but instead proud. Together, we have forever demonstrated that nobody is above the law, not the wealthy and not even the Government. Through this case, we have strengthened the importance and the role of victims in the criminal justice system. As Judge Marra alluded to in his Order, this case undoubtedly elevated public awareness of Mr. Epstein’s crimes and played a vital role in his eventual arrest in New York. Of course, this is not the ending we had hoped for, but the enormous progression of victims’ rights through this case will ensure that violations like this never happen again in this country. For that, the fight was worth it. We are exploring all options for continuing the fight, including the possibility of an appeal."
Jack Scarola, another attorney for Epstein's alleged victims, released this statement to WPTV:
"It is indeed frustrating to have devoted as much time to the CVRA proceedings as Brad Edwards, Professor Paul Cassel, and (to a lesser extent) I have devoted ...to that case, and to have our primary objective frustrated by Jeffrey Epstein’s death. Nevertheless, we do take solace in recognizing the role that a decade of legal work has played in focusing public attention on the failures of the criminal justice system in dealing with Epstein’s horrendous crimes. The next chapter is making sure that every one of his co-conspirators is held fully accountable for their participation in those crimes and every government official is held to answer for allowing them and Epstein to escape a full measure of justice."
Roy Black, Epstein's attorney, released this statement about the judge's decision:
"Judge Marra, as usual, has ruled in a scholarly, well written opinion. Due to Mr. Epstein’s death the Court was unable to address the appropriateness of the non-prosecution agreement. I believe his ruling on it would have ended much of the unfair and biased coverage of how it occurred and perhaps could have limited some of the wild conspiracy theories surrounding it."
Epstein killed himself last month in jail in New York while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.