Alexander Acosta – Secretary of Labor

 

In 2007–2008, as U.S. Attorney, Acosta approved a plea deal that required Jeffrey Epstein to plead guilty to state charges of prostitution against one 14-year-old girl, register as a sex offender and pay restitution to victims as part of a federal non-prosecution agreement. The prosecutors had identified 36 victims of Epstein, most of them having no prior knowledge of the agreement and no opportunity to give input. The deal has been the subject of criticism by the Miami Herald and others…

On February 21, 2019, a ruling in federal court returned Acosta’s role in the Epstein case to the headlines. A key criticism of the Epstein case was that the federal deal with Epstein had been kept secret until after it was finalized, a practice that had been common prior to passage of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act of 2004 (CVRA), which requires notifying victims of the progress of federal criminal cases. The CVRA was new and relatively untested at the time of the Epstein non-prosecution agreement. In 2008, two of Epstein’s victims filed a lawsuit in federal court aiming to vacate the federal non-prosecution agreement on the grounds that it violated the CVRA. For more than a decade, the U.S. Attorney’s office denied that it acted in violation of victims’ rights laws and argued that the CVRA did not apply in the Epstein case. The government’s contention that the CVRA did not apply was based on questions of timing (whether or not CVRA applied prior to filing of federal charges), relevance (whether the CVRA applied to non-prosecution agreements), and jurisdiction (whether the case should be considered a federal case or a state case under the CVRA). The court rejected those arguments in the February 21, 2019, ruling, finding that the CVRA did apply and that victims should have been notified of the Epstein non-prosecution agreement in advance of its signing, to afford them the opportunity to influence its terms. At the conclusion of his ruling, the federal judge in the case noted that he was “not ruling that the decision not to prosecute was improper,” but was “simply ruling that, under the facts of this case, there was a violation of the victims rights [for reasonable, accurate, and timely notice] under the CVRA.”

Because the CVRA does not specify penalties for failure to meet victims notification requirements, the judge offered both parties opportunities to suggest remedies—Epstein’s victims who were party to the suit asked for rescission of the federal non-prosecution agreement with Epstein, while the government suggested other approaches, maintaining that other victims were against rescinding the agreement due to privacy concerns and possible impacts to restitution paid under the agreement.

On July 6, 2019, Epstein was arrested by the FBI-NYPD Crimes Against Children Task Force on sex trafficking charges stemming from activities alleged to have occurred in 2002–2005. Initial reports were unclear as to whether the 2007–2008 federal non-prosecution agreement with Epstein had been rescinded prior to the arrest. Read more at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Acosta

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