After Jeffrey Epstein’s death, victims want his alleged ‘co-conspirators’ to be held accountable
By MARC FREEMAN SOUTH FLORIDA SUN SENTINEL
The death of Jeffrey Epstein spurred some his sexual abuse victims on Monday to renew calls for his accused “co-conspirators” — four women and unnamed others — to face prosecution in South Florida.
Angry that Epstein and his associates avoided federal charges through his “sweetheart” deal over a decade ago, the victims urged a judge to clear the way for the alleged accomplices to be held accountable.
They asked U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra to immediately rescind the portion of Epstein’s deal that provided immunity for the people who allegedly aided Epstein’s efforts to abuse dozens of underage girls at his Palm Beach mansion.
Epstein’s much-criticized “non-prosecution agreement” prevented charges against Sarah Kellen, Adriana Ross, Lesley Groff, and Nadia Marcinkova, as well as any other “potential co-conspirators,” records show.
“It would be unfair to the victims if Epstein not only managed to cheat justice through his death, but also left behind some kind of legal issue preventing the victims from obtaining the … remedy to which they are plainly entitled,” wrote attorneys Bradley Edwards and Paul Cassell.
Five months ago, Marra found Epstein’s deal with the federal government violated a federal crime victims’ rights law.
The judge said the victims were “deliberately” kept in the dark about Epstein’s deal, which resulted in his pleading guilty in 2008 to two prostitution charges, avoiding the chance of a lengthy prison sentence.
Prosecutors recently argued that Epstein’s deal could not be scrapped under the law and that even some victims worried about losing their anonymity if the arrangement was undone.
So the government lawyers proposed it would be best to let all of the victims have a court hearing in West Palm Beach to publicly tell their stories, if they wish.
The lawyers for the two victims in their 11-year-old civil case against the government argued Monday that prosecutors now should have no objection to bringing charges against the “criminals” who conspired with Epstein.
Edwards and Cassell also called for the court to promptly hold the proposed public hearing to “give the victims at least some kind of day in court” following Epstein’s sudden death in New York.
“Because Epstein is now dead, there will never be a criminal trial to hold him accountable, either in the Southern District of Florida, the Southern District of New York, or elsewhere,” they wrote. “Accordingly, the victims (and the public) will never witness his public trial where the facts connected to sexual abuse will be fully aired.”
The lawyers for years have slammed the “secret justice” Epstein received in the deal put together without his victims’ knowledge.
Along with the state felony convictions, Epstein also registered as a sex offender and agreed to pay confidential settlements to more than two dozen teenage girls.
The victims’ counsel previously urged Marra to keep Epstein’s punishments and confidential financial settlements with victims in place, while removing Epstein’s and his accomplices’ immunity from prosecution in South Florida.
They argued it was an appropriate solution in light of such a “disturbing illegality — i.e., the Government and a criminal working together to deliberately impair the protected rights of innocent crime victims.”
In June, the federal prosecutors acknowledged their office “should have communicated its resolution of the federal criminal investigation of Epstein to his victims more effectively and in a more transparent manner.”
While Epstein was charged last month with sex trafficking charges in New York, the prosecutors in South Florida contended that it wasn’t possible to prosecute Epstein here.
“The past cannot be undone; the government committed itself to the terms of the (non-prosecution agreement), and the parties have not disputed that Epstein complied with its provisions,” the prosecutors wrote.
The controversial pact has come under intense scrutiny in recent months.
Publicity over Epstein’s deal led to the July 12 resignation of U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, the former U.S. attorney who oversaw the money manager’s immunity from federal crimes.
Epstein wound up serving 13 months of his state punishment in a special wing of the Palm Beach County Jail. He also was permitted to leave the facility during the day and spend up to 12 hours a day in his West Palm Beach office.
Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, responding to allegations that Epstein had sexual relations during his work release, started a criminal investigation.
But he later agreed that in order to maintain the public’s trust, it was for the best for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to conduct a criminal investigation into all aspects of Epstein’s treatment from 12 years ago.
This review, ordered by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, is continuing, officials say.
Before his death at age 66, Epstein was facing a possible June 2020 trial on allegations he exploited dozens of girls in New York and Florida in the early 2000s. The two counts against the multimillionaire were punishable by up to 45 years in prison.
His lawyers argued the “non-prosecution agreement” in Florida prevented the filing of the new sex trafficking counts in New York. But the lawyers for the Florida victims — in the crime victims’ rights case – hoped they would finally get justice.
Epstein sexually abused more than 30 minor girls, some as young as 14, between 1999 and 2007, according to “facts” described by Judge Marra earlier this year.