As a federal prosecutor, Alex Acosta (now the Secretary of Labor) gave pedophile Jeffrey Epstein “the deal of a lifetime.” A federal investigation revealed 36 underage victims of Epstein, some as young as age 13 (additional victims have since been discovered). Yet, through a plea agreement with then-U.S. Attorney Acosta, Epstein managed to plead to only two state prostitution charges. He served 13 months in state prison, where he was housed in a private wing at the Palm Beach County jail and allowed work release privileges.
Giving Epstein this deal was disgusting, but lawful. As U.S. Attorney, Acosta had the right to do it.
However, Acosta also concealed the deal from his underage victims. Acosta agreed to keep the deal under seal, presumably because he knew how unjust and unsatisfactory it was. This meant that none of the victims was told about the sweetheart deal until it was too late to appear at his sentencing and be heard.
Now, a U.S. District Judge, Kenneth Marra, has ruled that Acosta and his prosecution team violated the law by hiding the agreement from Epstein’s victims. Marra, a senior judge and appointee of George W. Bush, concluded that, although prosecutors had the right to resolve the case in any way they saw fit, they did not have the right to hide the agreement from Epstein’s victims. Doing so violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA), which guarantees victims a series of rights, including the right to confer with prosecutors.
Judge Marra wrote:
Under the facts of this case, once the Government failed to advise the victims about its intention to enter into the [plea agreement], a violation of the CVRA occurred.
Particularly problematic was the Government’s decision to conceal the existence of the [agreement] and mislead the victims to believe that federal prosecution was still a possibility. When the Government gives information to victims, it cannot be misleading. While the Government spent untold hours negotiating the terms and implications of the [agreement] with Epstein’s attorneys, scant information was shared with victims.
Judge Marra did not issue a remedy or impose a punishment. Instead, he gave the government and the victims 15 days to confer and come up with a resolution.
I’m not sure what resolution they could reach that would be satisfactory or particularly remedial. The obvious remedy is for Acosta to be removed from his position in President Trump’s cabinet, but this is beyond the power of the government negotiators to effectuate.
President Trump has that power. He should have exercised it when this scandal broke. Now that a respected judge has declared that Acosta violated the law, Trump has no excuse for retaining him.