Prosecutors want to meet victims of sex offender Epstein

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Federal prosecutors said Friday they want to meet with once-underage victims of wealthy financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein before deciding whether to throw out a decade-old non-prosecution agreement that allowed him to avoid potentially severe penalties.

Prosecutors said in court filings that victim input is essential in deciding how to proceed in the long-running case. The filings came after U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra ruled in February that prosecutors in the office of then-Miami U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta violated a victims’ rights law by not disclosing the Epstein non-prosecution agreement to them.

Acosta, who is now President Donald Trump’s labor secretary, has defended the agreement as proper after it was criticized by Democrats and victim advocates. The 2008 deal ended a federal investigation that could have landed Epstein in prison for life, instead allowing him to plead guilty to lesser state charges that resulted in a 13-month jail sentence, required financial settlements to dozens of victims and that he register as a sex offender.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jill Steinberg and Nathan Kitchens — both from the Atlanta U.S. attorney’s office, which was chosen in March by the Justice Department to take over the case — said in court papers that they need at least 60 days to talk with victims before a decision is made on whether to tear up the Epstein deal.

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“The victims’ views and concerns are critical to inform the government’s recommendation of an appropriate remedy, particularly given the sensitive nature of the crime at issue,” the prosecutors wrote.

Attorneys for two victims, identified as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2, countered that prosecutors should be required to announce a proposed remedy for violating their rights to be informed of the Epstein agreement. They have previously said they want the Epstein deal voided, which could again expose him to federal prosecution.

“The government should go first,” lawyers Brad Edwards and Jack Scarola wrote in their filing. “After more than 10 years of litigation, the government’s suggestion that it should postpone explaining its proposed remedy is a transparent effort to do nothing but cause further delay.”

Both sides proposed lengthy schedules for future court filings and action. It will be up to Judge Marra to decide what happens next, but it could take months to resolve.

Epstein, 66, is a wealthy hedge fund manager who once counted as friends former President Bill Clinton, Great Britain’s Prince Andrew and Donald Trump, his former Palm Beach, Florida, neighbor.

Court documents show Epstein had a Palm Beach mansion where at least 40 underage girls were brought for what turned into sexual encounters. Authorities say he had female fixers who would look for suitable girls, some local and others recruited from Eastern Europe and other parts of the world.

Epstein also has a home in New York City, a ranch in New Mexico and a private Caribbean island. Some of the girls were brought to those places as well, court documents show.

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