A federal judge in Florida has unsealed more details in the Jeffrey Epstein underage sex lawsuit.
The court documents unsealed on Monday, reveal that prosecutors had suspected Epstein of abusing up to 40 underage girls. Yet they failed to charge the billionaire and instead offered him a secret plea bargain.
According to the newly released papers, Epstein’s lawyers also managed to succeed in delaying letters being sent out to his alleged victims informing them that their cases were not being pursued. The letters were sent out the month after the plea deal was struck thus giving him immunity from further prosecution.
The Mail Online reports:
A judge has released a cache of sealed documents from his plea deal in 2008 that include emails from prosecutors to his lawyers that will fuel suspicions they colluded to ensure he did not face the most serious charges.
In 2007, Assistant U.S. Attorney Marie Villafana sent an email to his lawyer Jay Lefkowitz stating: ‘I wanted to tell you that I have compiled a list of 34 confirmed minors.
‘There are six others, whose names we already have, who need to be interviewed by the FBI to confirm whether they were 17 or 18 at the time of their activity with Mr. Epstein.’
The emails also suggest that prosecutors attempted to keep information about his alleged crimes from judges.
Villafana wrote to Lefkowitz in a September 19, 2007 email: ‘I will include our standard language regarding resolving all criminal liability and I will mention “co-conspirators,” but I would prefer not to highlight for the judge all of the other crimes and all of the other persons that we could charge.’
Epstein eventually pleaded guilty to a state charge – soliciting prostitution from a minor – in exchange for a guarantee not to prosecute him in federal court. he served 13 months of an 18-month sentence.
But the emails have fueled speculation that the girls involved were kept in the dark about the arrangement.
Epstein’s lawyers demanded that letters to victims informing them their cases were not being pursued were not issued.
Lefkowitz wrote to prosecutors in November 2007 : ‘We do, however, strongly and emphatically object to your sending a letter [victim notification] to the alleged victims.’ He added that it would be ‘incendiary and inappropriate’ to send the letter and told of his fears of a leak to the press.
In a response days later US Alexander Acosta said he would be ‘directing our prosecutors not to issue victim notification letters until this Friday at 5pm’ so Epstein’s lawyers could ‘review’ their options over the plea deal.
The documents show some alleged victims were only notified after the plea deal was arranged.
Villafona wrote to Lefkowitz: ‘Three victims were notified shortly after the signing of the Non-Prosecution Agreement of the general terms of that Agreement. You raised objections to any victim notification, and no further notifications were done.’
Victim notifications were only sent out to 32 ‘identified victims’ about seven months after Epstein’s lawyers made their November 2007 attempt to delay the process.
Epstein was sentenced to 18 months in 2008 for soliciting a minor for prostitution and released after serving 13 months.
But two women, both alleged victims of Epstein, later launched a civil lawsuit against US federal prosecutors’ handling of the financier’s conviction.
Lawyers for the women claimed the plea deal granting him – and any potential co-conspirators – immunity from further prosecution, violated their clients’ rights.