Investigative journalism by the Miami Herald brings Jeffrey Epstein to justice


Brian Stelter of CNN gets this right, Jeffrey Epstein’s arrest shows the power of one newspaper’s investigation:

In the past year the Jeffrey Epstein case was catapulted onto the national news radar by one newspaper, the Miami Herald, and by one reporter in particular, Julie K. Brown. The paper’s “Perversion of Justice” series came out last November, and Brown has stayed on the story ever since.

As soon as The Daily Beast broke the news that Epstein had been arrested on Saturday evening, fellow journalists and other observers credited Brown and thanked her for the tenacious investigation.

Law enforcement officials are also giving credit to the reporting. “We were assisted” by “some excellent investigative journalism,” Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said at a Monday morning press conference.

Dogged investigative journalism by Julie Brown, with the support of her editors at the Miami Herald, and its parent company, McClatchy, has finally brought a wealthy, well-connected child sexual predator with friends in high places who have protected him from facing justice for years (including his lawyers Alan Dershowitz and Kenneth Starr).

True to form, she sought to shift the spotlight, away from her own work and toward her subjects.

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On Sunday’s “Reliable Sources,” Brown said she hopes more women choose to come forward.

“It takes a lot of courage, understandably,” Brown said. “This happened to them a long time ago, and many of them feel ashamed.”

“Jeffrey Epstein, 66, was arrested on Saturday as he arrived from on a private jet from Paris, one of several places where he maintains residences. After spending the rest of the weekend behind bars — a far cry from his customary opulence — he appeared in court Monday wearing a blue jail jumpsuit, hours after the Department of Justice unsealed a two-part indictment that could land him in prison for the rest of his life.” Jeffrey Epstein faces charges of sex trafficking minor girls:

His arrest followed a series of stories in the Miami Herald that detailed how prosecutors in South Florida had engineered a controversial deal to grant him immunity when he faced similar charges a decade earlier. The immunity deal was kept secret from his alleged victims, a violation of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act.

At a news conference Monday, Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, declared that Epstein’s alleged crimes “shocked the conscience.” It is alleged that he employed recruiters to lure girls as young as 14 to his home, ostensibly for the purpose of giving him a massage. The massages would turn into sex acts, for which the young girls were paid as much as $200. They could earn additional money if they were then willing to recruit other girls, from malls and other places where young people congregate.

The arrangement was similar to a pyramid scheme, court records show.

The indictment states that the victims often came from troubled backgrounds, making them susceptible to Epstein’s entreaties.

After federal agents arrested Epstein, they proceeded to his sprawling Manhattan townhouse to serve a search warrant, breaking down his door in the process. There, Berman said, they found nude pictures of young girls who appeared to be under age.

Berman said the Justice Department wants Epstein to remain locked up while awaiting trial, in light of his financial resources, multiple private planes and homes around the world.

Epstein pleaded not guilty Monday in federal court to sex trafficking charges, part of a swirl of developments in the case of the multimillionaire accused of sexually abusing an array of underage girls at his mansions in New York City and Palm Beach.

Present at Epstein’s bond hearing were two of his alleged victims, facing him for the first time in a decade and adding a dramatic element to an already convulsive day in court. The bond hearing was continued to Thursday.

The Southern District of New York appears to have rejected the earlier position of the DOJ that Jeffrey Epstein’s immunity deal in Florida should stand as his victims seek sex trafficking prosecution:

U.S. Attorney Byung “B.J.” Pak argued in a filing that “setting aside the immunity provisions” of the 2007 deal that let Epstein evade federal sex trafficking charges and plead guilty to a single prostitution charge in Florida state court could cause “unintended harm.”

Pak claimed the deal originally granted by former Miami U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta — now President Trump’s secretary of labor — helped some victims remain anonymous and still obtain civil settlements from the wealthy financier.

He also claimed Congress failed to outline specific penalties in the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, so Epstein’s victims have no right to demand any remedies from the government.

One lawyer representing Epstein survivors scoffed at Pak’s claims several victims “invoked” the non-prosecution agreement to strike their civil settlements.

“Impossible,” lawyer Jack Scarola responded. “The terms of the NPA were actively concealed from the victims. They could not have relied on terms they did not know.”

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Both the victims and the government were asked to submit “proposed remedies” to the court after U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra ruled in February that the secret non-prosecution agreement violated federal law concerning the rights of his victims.

“While the government spent untold hours negotiating the terms and implications of the (agreement) with Epstein’s attorneys, scant information was shared with victims,” Marra wrote in a 33-page opinion. “Instead, the victims were told to be ‘patient’ while the investigation proceeded.”

The judge said the law dictated that “victims should be notified of significant events resulting in resolution of their case without a trial.”

Marra didn’t invalidate the non-prosecution agreement with his ruling but asked both sides to recommend ways to resolve the dispute.

Julie Brown reports, With Jeffrey Epstein locked up, these are nervous times for his friends, enablers:

Although details of the case remain undisclosed, there are indications that others involved in his crimes could be charged or named as cooperating witnesses.

Among those potentially on the list: Ghislaine Maxwell, a 57-year-old British socialite and publishing heir who has been accused of working as Epstein’s madam; and Jean-Luc Brunel, who, according to court records, was partners with Epstein in an international modeling company.

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Lawyers for Epstein’s victims, in court filings, have often likened Epstein’s sex operation to an organized crime family, with Epstein and Maxwell at the top, and below them, others who worked as schedulers, recruiters, pilots and bookkeepers.

For her part, Maxwell, whose social circle included such friends as Bill and Hillary Clinton and members of the British Royal family, has been described as using recruiters positioned throughout the world to lure women by promising them modeling assignments, educational opportunities and fashion careers. The pitch was really a ruse to groom them into sex trafficking, it is alleged in court records.

At least one woman, Sarah Ransome, claimed in a lawsuit that Maxwell and Epstein threatened to physically harm her or destroy any chance she would have of a fashion career if she didn’t have sex with them and others.

Maxwell has denied the claim and has never been charged.

Another woman, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, alleges she was recruited by Maxwell in 2000 when she was 16 years old. Giuffre was working as a spa attendant at Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s winter home and resort in Palm Beach at the time, court records show.

Trump, who lived less than a mile from Epstein’s waterfront mansion in Palm Beach, had also been friends with Epstein. Records show that he flew on Epstein’s private jet on occasion and attended parties and social events where he was photographed with Epstein.

Giuffre brought a civil defamation suit against Maxwell in 2015, after the Epstein associate called her a liar. It was settled two years later. But 2,000 pages of the previously sealed case file are expected to be made public in a few weeks, the result of litigation by the Miami Herald, and those records could prove damaging to Maxwell and others involved in Epstein’s alleged scheme.

“The one person most likely in jeopardy is Maxwell because the records that are going to be unsealed have so much evidence against her. She is in a particularly vulnerable position and will have an interest in cooperating, even though she may have missed that opportunity,’’ said lawyer David Boies, who represents Giuffre.

Boies said Brunel could also figure into Epstein’s prosecution because he has in the past offered to cooperate with investigators.

“Brunel has been one of these back-and-forth people for years. We interviewed Brunel more than four years ago and he promised to cooperate and then he didn’t, and he promised and didn’t. He was terrified of Epstein,’’ Boies said.

Giuffre claims that Epstein used the modeling agency, Mc2, to lure underage girls and in court papers said Epstein “deliberately engaged in a pattern of racketeering that involved luring minor children through Mc2, mostly girls under the age of 17, to engage in sexual play for money.”

Brunel has denied these claims, and says that Epstein was not a business partner or investor in his modeling company.

But Epstein’s arrest could open a window to expose other influential people who knew about or participated in his crimes. The question is what evidence or information does Epstein have against them and how might he use it?

“This case is being handled by the public corruption unit, and those people don’t typically handle cases involving child exploitation, so there may very well be some bombshells here of other people’s involvement because their role could mean there was some official action that was corrupt or some official acted corrupt in some way,’’ Hakes said.

Trump biographer Timothy O’Brien adds at Bloomberg, Epstein Arrest Is a Worry for Donald Trump:

[Julie] Brown’s stories took note of the extensive network of political, business and legal allies assembled by Epstein over the years and questioned the extent to which that network may have protected him or helped cushion his fall. It included: A former president, Bill Clinton; the U.K.’s Prince Andrew; powerhouse attorneys such as Alan Dershowitz, Kenneth Starr, and Roy Black; and business contacts such as Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of the late publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell, and Leslie Wexner, the owner of retailer Victoria’s Secret. Several years ago, Gawker published a copy of Epstein’s address book and it was packed with marquee names from Hollywood, Wall Street and Washington.

Trump’s name was among them, too.

Seeing the president’s name mixed in with dozens, if not hundreds, of other well-known personalities is hardly unusual. He has had a certain form of celebrity for a very long time. But for a while Trump was more than just a casual acquaintance of Epstein.

The financier was a member of Trump’s Palm Beach club, Mar-a-Lago, and the men dined at one another’s homes. Trump flew on Epstein’s plane at least once. According to Brown, Epstein is quoted in court papers as saying he wanted to set up his modeling agency – which prosecutors believe he used to get access to underage girls – “the same way Trump set up his modeling agency.”

Although a court filing says Mar-a-Lago eventually dumped Epstein from its ranks after he approached an underage girl there, Trump has generally spoken about Epstein fondly – to me and to others. “I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy,” Trump told New York magazine in 2002. “He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”

During the 2016 presidential campaign, an unidentified young woman filed a suit against Trump in which she alleged that he raped her when she was 13 at a party at Epstein’s Upper East Side townhouse in Manhattan. Trump denied the claims and the woman later dropped the suit because, her lawyer said, she was intimidated by death threats. The Trump camp described her allegations as “untrue.”

There’s a strong likelihood that Epstein will end up trying to flip for prosecutors as the reality of a lengthy prison sentence approaches, but it’s unclear how much he has that would be interesting to the feds. If he has anything sordid or compromising that he’s willing to trade about Trump, however, the president could be in for an uncomfortable summer. The public may be interested in that kind of stuff even if prosecutors aren’t.

Sex, money and celebrity — this is the kind of story that Americans love eat up and the media loves to provide. Expect this criminal case to get the kind of media attention that O.J. Simpson’s trial did.

Already Attorney General William P. Barr told reporters Monday that he has recused himself from the case involving Jeffrey Epstein because he once worked for one of the law firms that represented Epstein “long ago,” the report said. He did not name the law firm. AG Barr says he’s recused himself from Epstein case.

And the public needs to demand that Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta resign immediately, or be impeached.