Sen. Ben Sasse, R.-Neb., has demanded an investigation into the sweetheart deal given to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein who was notorious for his infamous “Lolita Express” where he took friends like Bill Clinton by plane to his private estate on the Caribbean island of Little Saint James with young girls who allegedly were used as prostitutes. Epstein was known for his preference for young women and powerful figures like Clinton were repeat guests.
Despite a strong case for prosecution, Epstein’s lawyers, including Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr, were able to secure a ridiculous deal with prosecutors. He was accused of abusing abused more than forty minor girls (with many between the ages of 13 and 17). Sasse is correct, the handling of the case is a disgrace but it is unlikely to result in any real punishment. Certainly not for Epstein who pleaded guilty to a Florida state charge of felony solicitation of underage girls in 2008 and served a 13-month jail sentence. Moreover, to my lasting surprise, the Senate approved the man who cut that disgraceful deal, former Miami U.S. attorney Alexander Acosta, as labor secretary. The Senate did not seem to care that Acosta betrayed these victims and protected a serial abuser. In other words, everyone was protected–he powerful Johns, Epstein, the prosecutors–just not the victims who were never consulted before Epstein got his sweetheart deal.
After the deal, it was revealed that not only did Clinton take the “Lolita Express” more than previously stated but that he notably told his Secret Service details not to come on the trips to what some called “Orgy Island.” Clinton was not the only fan of Epstein. President Donald Trump referred to him as a “terrific guy” in 2002, saying that “he’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.” Epstein is accused of abusing dozens of teenage girls and running them like a stable for powerful political and business leaders. Notably, Harvard University received a $6.5 million gift from the sex offender but decided to keep the money.
The former money manager was facing a 53-page indictment that could have resulted in life in prison in jail. However, he got the 13 month deal.
In a 2009 deposition, one key player said that federal prosecutors in Miami told him “that typically these kinds of cases with one victim would end up in a ten-year sentence.”
As for Acosta, his explanation of his handling of the case was pathetic. He wrote in 2011 that he yielded in the case because of “a year-long assault on the prosecution and the prosecutors” by “an army of legal superstars” like Dershowitz and Starr. He also wrote “The defense strategy was not limited to legal issues. Defense counsel investigated individual prosecutors and their families, looking for personal peccadilloes that may provide a basis for disqualification.” That is bizarre. Most prosecutors would have the backbone to double their efforts in the face of such pressure. Instead, Acosta’s defense came off as a whining or whimpering excuse for letting these big bad lawyers scare him off.
Conchita Sarnoff, the author of “TrafficKing,” a book on the Epstein case, also said that Acosta that “he felt incapable of going up against those eight powerful attorneys. He felt his career was at stake.” What a disgrace, but the Senate confirmed him as a cabinet member.
Notably, while victims are supposed to be consulted on such deals or decisions under the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act, Acosta kept them in the dark and tried to conceal the whole deal until a judge years later ordered it to be unsealed.
I continue to hope for a real investigation into this case, but the same powerful figures behind Epstein are still forces in Washington. Epstein may have abused young girls by the dozens but he made sure that some of the most powerful people in the world were part of his grotesque lifestyle.