by: Jane Musgrave, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer Updated:
Hoping to establish a precedent that would help crime victims throughout the nation, women who claim billionaire Jeffrey Epstein used them as sex toys when they were teens want a federal judge to toss the 10-year-old plea deal that they say allowed the politically connected money manager to escape federal sex charges.
In court papers filed in Florida this month, attorneys for two of the 30 young women allegedly molested by Epstein lodged their final written pleas aimed at spurring U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra to force federal officials to reopen their investigation. The attorneys say U.S. prosecutors violated the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act by failing to alert Epstein’s victims of the terms of what some describe as a “sweetheart deal” before the deal was put into action.
U.S. government lawyers will have a chance to defend themselves in September, and Marra could make a decision as early as this fall. He has already ruled that if he finds federal prosecutors violated the act, he will consider throwing out the controversial plea deal, setting a precedent for the 13-year-old federal act.
Roy Black, a high-profile Miami attorney who has represented Epstein, says that would be manifestly unfair. “If a defendant lives up to his end of the bargain, the government is bound to perform its promises,” he wrote.
But attorneys for the women counter that because prosecutors didn’t tell their clients about the plea deal, the non-prosecution agreement violates the law.
As part of the unusual agreement, federal prosecutors agreed not to pursue charges that could have sent Epstein to prison for life. In exchange, Epstein in 2008 pleaded guilty to two Florida prostitution charges and served 13 months of an 18-month sentence.
As part of the plea deal, Epstein, who now lives on his private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands, also paid roughly 30 women undisclosed amounts of money to settle civil lawsuits they filed against him, claiming he lured them to his Palm Beach mansion for sex when they were as young as 13.
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