Billionaire sexual predator escapes justice again, all thanks to Trump's secretary of labor
Jeffrey Epstein systematically abused countless girls and young women over the course of years. When he was caught, his crimes proven, he got a pass—from now-Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta. As U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Acosta negotiated a secret deal with Epstein’s legal team that resulted in Epstein serving just 13 months in county jail rather than a life sentence in federal lockup.
None of Epstein’s victims knew of the deal; none got to testify. The non-prosecution portion of the agreement protected Epstein from further criminal liability. Later civil suits against Epstein seemed the only way that survivors might get justice.
The most promising of the suits against Epstein was slated to begin jury selection Dec. 4. But Epstein has slithered free yet again, engineering an 11th-hour settlement and apology. It’s a civil case, not criminal, so his settlement effectively ends the matter in a fell swoop, presumably privately.
Not even Epstein’s apology was actually directed to women he assaulted. Rather, his lawyer read it to their lawyer, Bradley Edwards, in court. It’s not yet clear whether or how Epstein’s victims participated in the settlement: This civil trial would have been their first opportunity to testify against Epstein in court.
The root of this ongoing injustice, of Epstein’s impunity, was Acosta’s original bad faith dealing.
Acosta ensured that Epstein escaped meaningful criminal accountability at all levels, indefinitely, for the crimes he committed against girls and women. It is the criminal system, not the civil, that is meant to bear the burden of punishing offenders. By leaving only civil routes—susceptible to Epstein’s settlement agreements—for holding Epstein accountable, Acosta may have ensured the billionaire’s victims will never receive justice, certainly not publicly.