How to punish a pedophile sex offender

Jeffrey Epstein was indicted for having sex with dozens of underage girls. His practice was to lure girls ages 13 to 16 to his mansion for a “massage.” He would molest them, paying extra for oral sex and intercourse, and offering more money to bring him new girls.

In addition, Epstein reportedly had these underage girls engage in sex with his friends and associates. He would also induce them into having sex with each other while he watched.

For these practices, Epstein served just 13 months in state prison. He was housed in a private wing at the Palm Beach County jail and allowed work release privileges. Epstein’s year of “incarceration” reportedly included trips to New York and the Virgin Islands.

Epstein got off this lightly thanks to a plea deal granted by Alex Acosta, now the Secretary of Labor, then the U.S. Attorney in South Florida. These days, when he should be in prison, Epstein hangs out in his mansion in the Virgin Islands, as well as multiple other posh digs. Currently, according to this report, he’s forging ahead with building activity on the island of Great St. James, flouting efforts by the Virgin Islands’ government to force him to comply with the territory’s environmental protection laws.

Epstein’s plea deal is a lesson in how not to punish a pedophile sex offender. A lesson in how to punish one comes from the same U.S. Attorneys office that Alex Acosta once ran.

Earlier this month, Steven Snipe of West Palm Beach, Florida was sentenced in federal court to 15 years in prison after previously pleading guilty to one count of sex trafficking a minor and one count of producing child pornography. The details are here.

The conviction resulted from the combined efforts of the local U.S. Attorneys office and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan stated:

Those who sexually exploit our youth turn children into victims of deplorable acts. Our law enforcement partners in the Southern District of Florida and throughout the Department commend the strength of those who have raised their voices against an abuser. We hear your calls for help and will continue to seek justice for all, through the united force of our federal human trafficking prosecutions.

Epstein’s victims, whom Acosta deprived even of their right under federal law to know about the plea deal, may have mixed feelings about the sentencing of Steven Snipe. They have reason to be pleased that Snipe will serve a long prison term and that the Justice Department now “hear[s] victims call[s] for help.” However, their disgust with Epstein’s sharply contrasting “deal of a lifetime” may be reinforced.

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