A Florida judge has ruled financier Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking case was grossly mishandled by federal prosecutors, who hid a sweetheart plea deal from over 30 of his underage victims, violating federal law in the process.
“Epstein worked in concert with others to obtain minors not only for his own sexual gratification, but also for the sexual gratification of others,” US District Judge Kenneth Marra wrote in a ruling that found federal prosecutors had violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act by concealing Epstein’s plea deal from his victims, who could have contested the non-prosecution agreement that saw the hedge-funder spend just 13 months in an open-door ‘prison’ for abusing hundreds of underage girls.
Federal prosecutors, led by then-Southern District Attorney for Florida Alexander Acosta, now the Trump administration’s Secretary of Labor, colluded with Epstein’s lawyers to conceal both the sentencing agreement and the scope of his crimes from victims and the public, Marra said, while victims were misled into thinking they still had a chance to be heard in court.
The Story Behind a Powerful American Child Sex Trafficker's Remarkable Deal
Sensational Claims by Virginia Roberts About Prince Andrew When She Was 17
Evidence –enough “to fill a 53-page indictment with federal sex-crime charges”– confirmed Epstein and his employees had been recruiting girls from as close as Florida and as far as Eastern Europe to sexually service the financier and his rich and powerful friends, Marra said. Those friends reportedly included Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Prince Andrew, Alan Dershowitz, and other movers and shakers in business, law, finance, and government.
The judge did not issue a punishment, instead setting a 15-day deadline for victims and the government to decide on a resolution moving forward. As much as many of Epstein’s victims still want him jailed, even prosecuting attorney Brad Edwards admits the non-prosecution agreement is unlikely to be overturned.
Should other victims step forward in other jurisdictions, however, Epstein can still be prosecuted – there is no statute of limitations for sex trafficking.
“Instead of admitting what they did, and doing the right thing, [the government] spent 11 years fighting these girls,” Edwards said.
Revictimizing the victims to shelter the pedophile. Someone else should go to jail for that. The rich and famous have their own justice system.
“This was probably the most unjust outcome of any case I’ve been involved in in 40 years,” Michael Reiter, former Palm Beach police chief, told the Miami Herald.
The US Justice Department is conducting its own probe of whether federal prosecutors were guilty of wrongdoing. A representative for Acosta’s Department of Labor told CNBC that “the office’s decisions were approved by departmental leadership and followed departmental procedures.”
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is being charged with misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution after he was allegedly twice videotaped paying for and receiving sex at an illicit massage parlour, according to police in Jupiter, Fla.
The 77-year-old Kraft hasn't been arrested. A warrant will be issued and his attorneys will be notified, police said Friday.
The charge comes amid a widespread crackdown on sex trafficking in the area surrounding Palm Beach County. About 200 arrest warrants have been issued in recent days and more are expected. Police said they secretly planted undercover cameras in targeted massage parlors and videotaped the interactions between men and the female employees.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Kraft said they "categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity. Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further."
The Patriots won the Super Bowl earlier this month in Atlanta.
Jupiter Police Chief Daniel Kerr said he was shocked to learn Kraft was paying for sex inside a strip mall massage parlour.
Kraft's wife, Myra Hiatt, died in 2011. He has been dating 39-year-old actress Ricki Noel Lander since 2012.
The NFL did not immediately respond to a message Friday seeking comment.
R. Kelly was charged Friday with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse, after decades of lurid rumours and allegations that the R&B star was sexually abusing women and underage girls.
Tandra Simonton, spokesperson for the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, confirmed to The Associated Press the charges had been filed against the 52-year-old Grammy winner but declined to say the specific number. Media reports said there were 10 counts, all involving underage victims.
Over the years, Kelly has consistently denied any sexual misconduct.
Kelly, whose legal name is Robert Kelly, is one of the top-selling recording artists of all time, with hits such as I Believe I Can Fly, and his arrest sets the stage for another #MeToo-era celebrity trial. Bill Cosby went to prison last year, and former Hollywood studio boss Harvey Weinstein is awaiting trial.
Kelly was charged a day after Michael Avenatti, the attorney whose clients have included porn star Stormy Daniels, said he recently gave Chicago prosecutors new video evidence of the singer having sex with an underage girl. It was not immediately clear if the charges were connected to that video.
In 2008, a jury acquitted Kelly of child pornography charges over a graphic video that prosecutors said showed him having sex with a girl as young as 13. He and the young woman allegedly depicted with him denied they were in the 27-minute video, even though the picture quality was good and witnesses testified it was them, and she did not take the stand. Kelly could have received 15 years in prison.
Singer denies abusing women
After Surviving R. Kelly's release, Chicago's top prosecutor, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, said she was "sickened" by the allegations and asked potential victims to come forward.
MeToo activists and a social media movement using the hashtag #MuteRKelly called on streaming services to drop Kelly's music and promoters not to book any more concerts. And protesters demonstrated outside Kelly's Chicago studio.
Kelly's attorney, Steve Greenberg, said earlier this year that his client was the victim of a TV hit piece and that Kelly "never knowingly had sex with an underage woman, he never forced anyone to do anything, he never held anyone captive, he never abused anyone."
Avenatti said his office was retained last April by people regarding allegations of sexual assault of minors by Kelly. He said the video surfaced during a 10-month investigation. He told The Associated Press that the person who provided the VHS tape knew both Kelly and the female in the video.
Despite accusations that span decades, the singer and songwriter who rose from poverty on Chicago's South Side has retained a sizable following. He has written numerous hits for himself and other artists, including Celine Dion, Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga. His collaborators have included Jay-Z and Usher.
Kelly broke into the R&B scene in 1993 with his first solo album, 12 Play, which produced such popular sex-themed songs as Bump N' Grind and Your Body's Callin'.
Months after those successes, the then-27-year-old Kelly faced allegations he married 15-year-old Aaliyah, the R&B star who later died in a plane crash in the Bahamas. Kelly was the lead songwriter and producer of Aaliyah's 1994 debut album.
Kelly and Aaliyah never confirmed the marriage, though Vibe magazine published a copy of the purported marriage licence. Court documents later obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times showed Aaliyah admitted lying about her age on the licence.
Jim DeRogatis, a longtime music critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, played a key role in drawing the attention of law enforcement to Kelly. In 2002, he received the sex tape in the mail that was central to Kelly's 2008 trial. He turned it over to prosecutors. In 2017, DeRogatis wrote a story for BuzzFeed about the allegations Kelly was holding women against their will in Georgia.
Robert Mendick, chief reporter Martin Evans, crime correspondent, The Telegraph
The Government’s beleaguered child sex abuse inquiry is threatening to drag up false allegations against Lord Brittan in a move that has caused deep distress to his widow.
The £100 million inquiry has written to Lady Brittan warning her that she is likely to be ‘upset’ by the re-examination of previously discounted allegations against her husband, the former home secretary.
Yes, but, as you say, in a botched inquiry.
But now the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) is threatening to dredge up a series of historic claims made against Lord Brittan.
The inquiry, which has lurched from one scandal to another since its launch, is expected to rake up a series of claims as part of its investigation beginning in March into allegations that senior politicians in Westminster were paedophiles whose abuse was covered up by authorities.
IICSA will also examine a series of claims against Sir Edward Heath, the former prime minister who died almost 15 years ago and cannot defend himself.
A £2 million inquiry into Heath found no corroborating evidence to suggest he had sexually abused children.
The letter sent to Lady Brittan last month - at about the time of the anniversary of his death - has caused her huge anxiety and concern, according to her friends, who have branded it a renewed ‘witch hunt’.
As Leon Brittan, he was one of the towering figures in Margaret Thatcher’s government. He died of cancer in 2015 and is unable to defend himself, friends pointed out.
And so have you, twice now!
One friend of Lady Brittan said: “She is really upset over this. Why are they wasting their time and money on these false claims? She has had this very patronising letter saying: ‘we are sorry for your distress’.
“Lady Brittan just doesn’t understand what they are doing and why they are doing it? All it is is yet another witch hunt. But why? People like Leon have no voice.”
In reality, it is child victims of sexual abuse who have no voice. Brittan has his wife and friends, very powerful friends, and the Telegraph, to speak out for him. Who is speaking out for child sex abuse victims? IICSA! Don't shut them up.
The Met police investigations into Brittan and Heath were so badly botched as to have no real credibility. Aside from poor police work, there was certainly pressure from above. Both of these men need to be reexamined without political interference and without bias, and if they are innocent, their legacy will be better off for the inquiry.
The IICSA letter is understood to have warned Lady Brittan: “We are giving you advance notice that we are investigating the Westminster strand and in the course of all this your husband’s name will come up. We are sorry if this might cause you distress’.”
The source said: “But she is really upset. Leon is dead and they don’t care. They are going to impugn a dead person who doesn’t have a right of reply - and that is a shocking thing to do. It feels politically motivated. Lady Brittan is just incredibly distressed. She had to go through all this before Leon’s death and now IICSA is dredging it up again.”
So, should we ignore all the priests and bishops who have sexually abused children in the last century because they are now dead. Don't those survivors deserve their day in court. Don't they deserve to finally be heard?
Lady Brittan declined to comment last night.
The allegations against Lord Brittan stem from a malicious briefing campaign against the Conservative home secretary, dating back to the 1980s.
It was suggested at the time he had been the victim of anti-Semitic smears by disgruntled members of the security services.
MI5 has submitted documents to IICSA that includes a list of politicians whose names appear in its files over child sex abuse allegations. Lord Brittan may be on the list.
Allegations against Lord Brittan began to resurface in 2012 after Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, stood up in parliament and claimed there was a “powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and Number 10”.
The claims were thoroughly investigated by police and no evidence found of any such network. Unfounded allegations linking Lord Brittan - among others including celebrities - to Elm Guest House, in Barnes in south west London, where it was alleged boys had been sexually abused also began to circulate.
But a list of VIP abusers was traced back to Chris Fay, a one-time Labour councillor subsequently convicted of fraud. His claims were investigated by the Metropolitan Police over the course of almost two years and found no corroborating evidence.
When Lord Brittan died in January 2015, Mr Watson described Brittan as “as close to evil as any human being could get”. Mr Watson later apologised for the distress he had caused.
IICSA is also likely to hear claims made against the former Tory MP, Harvey Proctor, who has been given core participant status for the Westminster strand of the inquiry. But last night he said he had still not been informed what claims had been made against him.
Mr Proctor said: "I am frustrated that with just over a week to go before the Westminster strand starts, I have not been furnished yet with the full allegations that have been made against me."
He said: "IICSA was launched on the bandwagon of hysteria following Tom Watson's claims that there was a child abuse network reaching into Downing Street. That hysteria saw the wrongful naming of former politicians such as Sir Edward Heath, Lord Brittan, my late father, Lord Janner and others linked to Operation Midland.
"The inquiry has already racked up costs of £60 million and there is no end in sight. It now looks like IICSA will allow a stream of allegations against the dead who are unable to answer back and defend themselves. It is wrong to allow the presumption of guilt to be aired in the court of public opinion."
Sir Edward Heath's godson Lincoln Seligman said: "It is quite appalling that the still grieving relatives of wholly innocent people, like Lady Brittan, should be put through further pain because of a pointless wild goose chase."
IICSA has continued with its Westminster strand despite the fact that there is no evidence that any VIP paedophile ring existed among senior politicians.
Police inquiries including investigations in to Heath, Lord Brittan, Harvey Proctor and others have all concluded that unfounded claims have been just that.
IICSA has struggled since it was set up by Theresa May, the then home secretary, in 2014 in the wake of Mr Watson’s claims and the furore over the failure to prosecute the disc jockey and presenter Jimmy Savile in his lifetime.
Three chairwomen have resigned along with Ben Emmerson, the then counsel to the inquiry, who was suspended from duty and later forced to resign after he was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in a lift within IICSA’s premises.
Mr Emmerson denied the claim and was later cleared after an inquiry by a judge at his chambers.
The current chairwoman Professor Alexis Jay, a social worker, took over in August 2016 after her predecessor Dame Lowell Goddard, a New Zealand judge quit suddenly, complaining that IICSA’s “legacy of failure... has been very hard to shake off”.
A spokesperson for IICSA said: "The Inquiry does not comment on private correspondence in ongoing investigations."
If you have been reading this blog for a few years you may remember that I criticized Theresa May relentlessly over her failure to set up the inquiry in a functional manner with functional people. Dame Goddard was a disaster, her predecessors were both linked to some of those who would be investigated. Naming Alexis Jay to head the inquiry was just about the only thing May did right, even though The Telegraph may think less of her because she is merely a social worker, not an aristocrat.