What took prosecutors so long to open a case against Jeffrey Epstein?
Most people following the Jeffrey Epstein saga know the beats. After the plea deal of a lifetime, sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein kept getting away with his crimes until he was arrested in 2019. Epstein died in prison, officially by suicide, but many speculate about the mysterious circumstances around his death.
Currently, Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged accomplice, former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, is sitting in jail on charges related to Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking ring. Maxwell pleaded not guilty and maintains her innocence as she awaits trial. Despite her insistence she’s innocent, multiple victims of Jeffrey Epstein came forward, claiming Maxwell recruited them and even participated in the abuse herself.
What many people don’t know is U.S. prosecutors nearly went after Epstein earlier. An investigation in 2016 may have put Epstein away sooner, but due to the 2008 agreement, it was scrapped.
The deal of a lifetime
In 2008, U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta worked a deal out with Jeffrey Epstein’s lawyers so Epstein could avoid prosecution. Epstein’s “sentence” comprised of twelve months in jail, where he was out “on work release” during the day (he could go home). While he was put on a sex offender registry, that didn’t stop him from coming & going on his island – locals even witnessed him bringing underage girls there.
Also, while banks severed ties with Jeffrey Epstein, and schools like Harvard forbade their programs from taking endowments from Epstein, some investors continued bankrolling him. The New York Post reported that investor Leon Black gave Epstein $50 million after his crimes became public.
Two requests to investigate
Despite Jeffrey Epstein believing he got away scot-free, The New York Daily News reported not one, but two attempts to investigate him. According to the Daily News’s sources, district attorney for Southern New York Amanda Kramer met with victims of Jeffrey Epstein & Ghislaine Maxwell back in 2016. Via Newsweek, Kramer was asked by victims’ lawyers to look into Epstein’s “massive sex-trafficking ring going on”.
However, via Newsweek, Kramer turned them down. Per Epstein’s victims’ lawyer David Boies, it wasn’t because she didn’t want to. Rather, her “hands were tied” due to the non-prosecution agreement Epstein made with Acosta in 2008.
“This was not a situation where we were dealing with people who didn’t care. I never thought they didn’t believe our story. I never had any doubt they were sympathetic, even outraged by it. They simply seemed to feel they couldn’t be seen as second-guessing what the U.S. Attorney in Florida had done,” Boies elaborated.
Sex trafficking expertise
Amanda Kramer wasn’t the only U.S. attorney where Jeffrey Epstein lived. She had an extensive background in prosecuting sex trafficking cases for which she even won awards. Her professional experience handling sex trafficking may have been why Boies went to Kramer, but Boies regrets not going directly to Manhattan’s U.S. attorney, Preet Bharara.
“We never contacted Preet directly. We thought he would have been briefed on a matter of this importance. And we hoped to make progress with the staff and didn’t want it to be seen as going over their head. But in retrospect, we probably should have gone to him directly,” Boies explained.
However, in meetings, Kramer made it clear that she didn’t want to step on Florida’s toes. “This has already been looked at, so what you’re really asking us to do is redo what the U.S. attorney in Florida did?” the New York Daily News Source recalls Kramer saying in a meeting.
Perversion of justice
As many people following the Jeffrey Epstein case know, Epstein was caught in the end. However, it took a lot of public pressure. Amid the #MeToo Movement, The Miami Herald published a series of investigative articles about the case called “Perversion of Justice”. The Herald identified over eighty girls identified as victims of Epstein and exposed Acosta & Epstein’s deal.
After The Miami Herald’s exposure, public pressure was on for the government to act. Alex Acosta, who was U.S. President Donald Trump’s labor secretary, was removed from a shortlist to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Acosta resigned from his cabinet post after Epstein’s arrest.