US Justice Department Rules Prosecutor Used 'Poor Judgement' In Jeffrey Epstein Investigation
A US Justice Department report has found former labor secretary Alex Acosta exercised 'poor judgment' as a top federal prosecutor in Florida while handling an investigation into late financier Jeffrey Epstein.
However, it also stated that Acosta did not engage in professional misconduct.
The report, which was obtained by The Associated Press, detailed an investigation by the US Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility into Acosta's handling of the secret plea deal made to Epstein in 2008, who had been accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls.
While the report acknowledged there was a 'lack of judgement' in how the situation was handled, it concluded that none of the prosecutors engaged in misconduct.
It stated that Acosta had the authority as a US attorney 'to resolve the case as he deemed necessary and appropriate, as long as his decision was not motivated or influenced by improper factors'.
The office added that that there was no evidence to suggest that Acosta was swayed by 'impermissible considerations, such as Epstein's wealth, status, or associations.'
"OPR does not find that Acosta engaged in professional misconduct by resolving the federal investigation of Epstein in the way he did or that the other subjects committed professional misconduct through their implementation of Acosta's decisions," the report said.
It's a ruling that is likely to come as a blow to Epstein's alleged victims, who had hoped that an internal investigation would hold Justice Department officials accountable for Epstein escaping justice, with the disgraced billionaire taking his own life in 2019.
The ruling was blasted by Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, who had questioned Justice Department officials repeatedly regarding the plea deal.
"Letting a well-connected billionaire get away with child rape and international sex trafficking isn't 'poor judgment' - it is a disgusting failure. Americans ought to be enraged," Sasse said.
"Jeffrey Epstein should be rotting behind bars today, but the Justice Department failed Epstein's victims at every turn."
In a separate statement, Marie Villafana, who was the lead prosecutor in the investigation, said she was pleased that OPR had completed the report but was 'disappointed that it has not released the full report so the victims and the public can have a fuller accounting of the depth of interference that led to the patently unjust outcome in the Epstein case.'
"That injustice, I believe, was the result of deep, implicit institutional biases that prevented me and the FBI agents who worked diligently on this case from holding Mr. Epstein accountable for his crimes," she said.
Epstein died in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Facility in New York, on 10 August 2019. His death was ruled as suicide by hanging by the New York medical examiner.
He had been arrested on 6 July on federal charges for the sex trafficking of minors in Florida and New York, and the case was still pending at the time of his death. Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 to procuring an underage girl for prostitution and of soliciting a prostitute in Florida.
Despite federal officials having evidence from 36 girls, some as young as 14 years old, after less than 13 months in jail he was released for a year of probation on house arrest, until August 2010