Trump’s Labor Secretary Under Fire
MIAMI, Fla. – December 7, 2018
Miami Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein was accused ten years ago of sexually abusing dozens of girls in Florida, but after a secret agreement with the prosecution he merely visited prison. The then-Public Prosecutor, Alexander Acosta, is now Labor Secretary for the Trump administration and some are asking for his resignation.
Epstein, a well-connected Manhattan money manager and philanthropist, was once a regular at Mar-a-Lago and an active supporter of the Clinton Foundation—repeatedly lending his 727 jet to Clinton for trips overseas.
Dershowitz defended Epstein amid an investigation into his involvement with underage girls more than a decade ago. Epstein pleaded guilty to two charges: solicitation of prostitution and soliciting a minor for prostitution. He served 13 months in a county jail and paid financial settlements to many of the roughly 40 women the FBI deemed to be his victims, and it was Acosta—then the U.S. Attorney overseeing south Florida—who allowed Epstein’s case to be resolved in state court in 2008.
Epstein spent most of his sentence out of his cell, in his Palm Beach office, because of "work privileges" he got despite being a sexual predator, according to the Herald investigation.
The Miami Herald called in its editorial on Thursday for the resignation of Alexander Acosta from the Labor portfolio in Washington after an extensive investigation by the newspaper on the buried Epstein case.
Acosta was "ethically committed" for alleviating the multi-millionaire's punishment in a case of sexual abuse of minors and possible trafficking that could have sent him to life imprisonment in 2008.
"We recommend that Acosta renounce his current position by allowing a rich, powerful and politically connected man to evade justice and get away with it easily," says the editorial.
In the wake of the Herald investigation released last week, an online petition calling for Acosta's resignation had nearly 70,000 signatures on Thursday. In an interview with CNN, the Democratic representative for Florida, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, described the agreement as "disgusting.”
According to one of the lawsuits, Epstein hired, through recruiters, economically needy teenagers to do "massages" that led to sexual abuse, paying them $200-$300.
According to the Miami Herald, Epstein made a secret deal with the then-Federal Prosecutor Acosta without the victims being informed.
The victims, now in their 30s, believe that the prosecutors who were supposed to be defending them were part of a silencing scheme.
"No one has been told the truth of what Jeffrey Epstein did," one of the billionaire’s victims Michelle Licata told the Herald.
The Herald identified 80 women in their 30s who said they had been sexually abused by Epstein between 2001 and 2006. Of those, The Herald located 60, four of whom agreed to be filmed. Most of them were 13 to 16 years old at the time. Several of them told the Herald that they felt betrayed by Acosta and other prosecutors who failed to treat them as victims and labeled them as prostitutes — even though they were under the age of consent.
"What Acosta did when the Epstein case fell on his desk is reprehensible in the pre and post era #MeToo," the newspaper said in its editorial on Thursday.
After a separate trial that came to court this week, the case came back to light. In it, Epstein sued the lawyer Bradley Edwards, who represents several of the alleged victims of the billionaire, for misconduct.
The matter was resolved on Tuesday with an agreement and the victims, once again, had no opportunity to be heard in court.
However, Edwards' lawyer, Jack Scarola, assured that the lawyer will work to get the 2008 agreement annulled and bring Epstein before a jury.
Acosta, 49, was confirmed as President Trump’s Labor Secretary in April 2017. During his hearings, senators Tim Kaine and Patty Murray questioned Acosta about Epstein’s deal but Acosta never explained why he agreed to have it sealed.
He was approved by the Senate, 60-38, with eight Democrats and one independent voting in favor of his appointment.