Editor's note: Jeffrey Epstein was arrested in New York on July 6, 2019, and faced federal charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. On August 10, 2019, he died in an apparent jailhouse suicide. For more information, see The Daily Beast's reporting here.
The Department of Justice announced Wednesday that it has opened an investigation into convicted sex offender and billionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s sweetheart plea deal, and whether department lawyers may have “committed professional misconduct” during his prosecution.
Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd revealed that the agency’s Office of Personal Responsibility (OPR) is conducting the probe in a letter to Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), who raised “significant concerns” after a bombshell investigative report by The Miami Herald unearthed new details about Epstein’s lenient plea agreement.
“OPR has now opened an investigation into allegations that Department attorneys may have committed professional misconduct in the manner in which the Epstein criminal matter was resolved,’’ Boyd said, noting that the results of the investigation will be shared with Sasse, who is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Miami Herald report detailed how Epstein—who has been accused of molesting more than 100 underage girls in Palm Beach, Florida—was granted a plea deal by now Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta and other DOJ attorneys.
Sasse’s demand for an investigation was echoed by 14 lawmakers from across the aisle, who wrote a similar letter in December urging the DOJ inspector general to open a probe.
“Jeffrey Epstein is a child rapist and there’s not a single mom or dad in America who shouldn’t be horrified by the fact that he received a pathetically soft sentence,” Sasse said in a press release Wednesday. “The victims of Epstein’s child sex trafficking ring deserve this investigation—and so do the American people and the members of law enforcement who work to put these kinds of monsters behind bars.”
After pressure by Epstein’s defense lawyers, including Sexgate prosecutor Ken Starr and celebrity attorney Alan Dershowitz, the 2008 plea deal was secretly constructed by Acosta, then Miami’s top federal prosecutor, and other attorneys unbeknownst to the billionaire’s alleged victims, the Herald investigation found.
The non-prosecution deal effectively buried dozens of allegations of sexual abuse at his Palm Beach mansion, and dismissed claims that Epstein ran a sex pyramid scheme from his home.
Instead of facing life in prison for the sex-trafficking charges, Epstein, 66, only pleaded guilty to two minor charges of solicitation of prostitution and procurement of minors for prostitution.
The politically connected billionaire, who has counted Donald Trump and Bill Clinton among his famous friends, ultimately served 13 months of an 18-month sentence in the private wing of a Palm Beach county jail and was permitted to leave six days a week, for 16 hours each day, for “work release,” as previously reported by The Daily Beast.
“For more than a decade, this prosecution has been reviewed in great detail by newspaper articles, television reports, books, and Congressional testimony,” a Department of Labor spokesperson told The Daily Beast on Thursday. “Department of Justice leadership, likewise, reviewed the matter at the time, and the Department has continued to defend the Southern District of Florida’s actions across three administrations and several attorneys general on the grounds that the actions taken were in accordance with Department practices, procedures, and the law.”
Virginia Roberts, who was a 16-year-old working at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort when she was allegedly approached by Epstein, told The Daily Beast Wednesday the probe is “wonderful but a little too late.”
“I’m glad that people are finally listening and taking action to the horrible things Jeffrey Epstein did,” Roberts, who alleges Epstein began instructing her on how to perform oral sex before sending her to a private island to have sex with his associates.
“Unfortunately, until we finally get our day in court, the victims have not received justice. We just want to be able to tell our story and find closure.”