WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The moment Jeffrey Epstein was convicted of sex crimes in a Palm Beach County courtroom in 2008, he was designated as a sexual offender.
Epstein would go on to serve 13 months in the county stockade for his crimes. Most of that time would be spent on work release, working on the fourteenth floor of a downtown high rise at his Florida Science Foundation.
However, as a registered sex offender, Contact 5 set out to see if Epstein qualified for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office’s work release program.
“Policies change in the sheriff's office,” said defense attorney Michael Salnick. “The question of whether one gets work release or one gets house arrest … is up to the sheriff's office, and when you qualify, you qualify.”
According to old file video in the WPTV archives, in 2008, a PBSO spokeswoman said Epstein did qualify for work release.
“Being a sex offender doesn't preclude you from meeting those requirements?,” WPTV reporter Eric Glasser asked in 2008. “[Epstein] met the requirements of the program,” said Teri Barbera, spokeswoman.
Again this week, the same spokeswoman, Barbera wrote : "Sex offenders are not permitted to go on work release. Epstein registered as a sex offender after he was released from jail."
It’s still not clear if the distinction between being a convicted sex offender versus a registered sex offender was enough to preclude Epstein from PBSO’s work-release program.
Through a records request, Contact 5 asked for PBSO’s 2008 work release policy in search of the exact, precise language on whether or not sex offenders qualify for the privilege, but we are still waiting on a response to that request.
“You really got to look at the 2008 policy, because there may be no language that says that, or there may be ambiguous language,” said Salnick. “Usually, in a criminal court if something is ambiguous, the benefit goes to the accused.
Here’s how much Epstein paid PBSO *while* he was incarcerated. He paid it from a foundation he owned — the same foundation Epstein went to work at everyday during his work release. https://t.co/rXn3cqwSMh @WPTV @WPTVContact5 #Contact5
— Merris Badcock (@MerrisBadcock) July 17, 2019
The questions come as Fort Lauderdale attorney Brad Edwards claims “more than one woman” was propositioned by Epstein at his Florida Science Foundation office, while visiting him during work release hours.
“He was not sitting there conducting some scientific research for the betterment of the community,” Edwards told reporters at a press conference in New York City on Tuesday. “[The women] believed that they were going there for something other than a sexual purpose, and while there, surprisingly to them, the situation turned sexual.”
Edwards says the women were between the ages of 18 and 20 at the time. He currently represents other victims involved in the South Florida investigation which resulted in a now infamous secret, non-prosecution agreement for Epstein.
The agreement kept Epstein out of federal prison despite evidence that the part-time Palm Beach resident allegedly ran a sex-trafficking ring out of his Palm Beach mansion. It also gave immunity to any of Epstein’s co-conspirators.
On Wednesday, Barbera emailed hundreds of pages of records to the Contact 5 investigators. Most of the pages detail information about Epstein’s work release.
A daily log kept by deputies who oversaw his detail show initially, they referred to the convicted sex offenders as “Inmate Epstein”, but as time progressed, the language change to “the client” or “Mr. Epstein.”