Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein allegedly forced girls as young as 14 years old who were "still in braces" into sex acts and used creepy come-on lines telling them to "go lower" while massaging him.
Alan Dershowitz, a lawyer who defended Epstein in the Florida case, defended the deal in a televised interview with CBS on Wednesday: "The feds thought it was the best they could do".
Under the 2008 deal, Epstein pleaded guilty to state charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution and served 13 months in jail, during which he was allowed out to go to his office during the day. And Epstein's lawyers argued Monday that the previous deal more than covers the new charges brought, and therefore their client can not be prosecuted. Future President Donald Trump called him a "terrific guy". "I had a falling out with him a long time ago", Trump said.
Federal prosecutors in NY acknowledged there is some overlap between the Florida and NY cases.
That agreement says there will be no prosecution of Epstein "in this district" - meaning the Southern District of Florida - though it doesn't include language specifically precluding other districts from prosecuting him, an addition that is common in such documents. Federal prosecutors say, essentially, a deal's a deal and the agreement must stand. That's not run-of-the-mill. What's also quite unusual is they did that even knowing that the state punishment would be quite lenient given the type of conduct that's described - basically trafficking in underage girls. "I feel very badly about that whole situation".
Epstein's case drew renewed attention earlier this year after the Miami Herald reported the plea deal and his alleged victims' ongoing struggle for justice amid the #MeToo movement that has unveiled sexual abuse and harassment by powerful men. And the government was agreeing it would not go after them.
Acosta has defended the deal as appropriate under the circumstances. That's how he talked about this case, I think, back in 2011.
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The phrase might make you think that the agreement resolves all matters pending or being contemplated anywhere, former federal prosecutor David Weinstein said. Are those typical defense tactics? "He's alot of fun to be with", Trump was quoted as saying. Again, from your position as a former federal prosecutor, is that a good response? "It is inexcusably poor judgment for a US Attorney to seek leniency for someone guilty of it. Secretary Acosta should provide his resignation immediately", former Vice President Joe Biden, the current 2020 frontrunner, tweeted.
CORNISH: Now, as we mentioned, Epstein was arrested earlier this week and charged by the USA attorney's office in the Southern District of NY.
Senate Republicans were critical of Epstein's alleged offenses, yet many were noncommittal about whether Acosta should retain his job.
"Preserving the innocence of children is one of the most important responsibilities we carry as adults", argued William Sweeney, head of New York's Federal Bureau of Investigation office. I voted against Alex Acosta's nomination because he should never have been in a position of power in the first place. In 2011, rights group Amnesty International said the unit, which has also been used to house people accused of terrorism, flouts "international standards for humane treatment". The main difference is New York talks about things happening at Epstein's palatial New York house, and that gives them the jurisdiction to do it - that and the movement to and from Florida to New York.
But other defense attorneys disputed that there is any double jeopardy issue in Epstein's case, since in Florida he wasn't charged on the federal level.
A federal judge in Florida recently agreed there was a violation but did not rule on whether Epstein's plea deal and non-prosecution agreement should be thrown out.