Federal prosecutors broke law in Jeffrey Epstein case, judge rules
First a federal judge ruled yesterday that prosecutors led by labor secretary Alexander Kosta into thousand eight when he was US attorney in Florida broke the law by concealing plea agreement as I'm Navarre's reports the sex crimes case involved more than thirty underage victims. The plea deal a decade ago for billionaire hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein, reduced charges a federal sex crimes with a potential life sentence in prison to lesser state charges of soliciting a minor and just thirteen months in county jail. Epstein was accused of building a vast network of underage girls. Some as young as thirteen girls he sexually abused in his Florida mansion and allowed other adult men to abuse as well in twenty eleven a Coster wrote. He wasn't aware of the full extent of Epstein's abuse back when he struck the plea deal. Many of the details only came to light late last year. When the Miami Herald published an extensive investigation. Including interviews with dozens of victims. The work was led by reporter, Julie K Brown who is ward at the George Polk award earlier this week and Julie K Brown joins me now. Julie welcome to the news hour. It's an extraordinary piece of reporting, it boggles the mind, though, why it took so long to come to light. So just start there. Tell us how did you first learn about this story? Why did you start to dig at it the way you did? Well, the pieces of this story that the outline of this story had been known for many many years a lot of journalists had written about this deal sort of scratching their heads about how could something like this happen. And when Alexander Kosta, the Miami US attorney in Miami was nominated by President Trump last year is labor secretary or in two thousand seventeen rather as labor secretary. I sort of wanted to hear what he was going to say when he would be asked about this case, and I was kind of. Astonished that he wasn't asked much about it at all in the answers that he did get give really weren't responsive to the questions he was asked. And so I thought you know, it's been a long time this was before the metoo movement. But I kept thinking I wonder what these victims these girls at the time they were thirteen fourteen fifteen now in their late twenties and thirties are thinking about the fact that he has advanced so far in his career after in essence in their minds, betraying them. So I said about trying to find out who these victims were and eventually convinced just a handful of them, quite frankly to to go public, but I spoke to many more than a handful of them and the details that they share in those interviews with you are just so incredible jaw-dropping and the consistencies across so many of their stories I want to share actually just a quick piece of one interview from one of the women you interviewed her name is Virginia Roberts, and here's what. She told you used to happen at Epstein's house ended with sexual abuse and intercourse. And then a Pat on the back you've done a really good job. Like, you know, thank you very much. And here's two hundred dollars. You know, before you know, it on being lint out to politicians into academics. And people that you royalty. And and people that you just you would never think like how did you get into that position of power in the first place, if you're this disgusting evil decrepit person on the inside Julie women, like Virginia lived for over a decade knowing that the US attorney, Alex Kosta in this case declined to prosecute the man who abused them when you first approached them were they willing to talk to you. Now, I will hit now that was probably the hardest part trying to convince them to trust me because a lot as I mentioned. There has been a lot written about the case. They have never really spoken publicly because quite frankly, they felt that their story really had never been told. So part of what I did was I I did some homework on it. I interviewed some sexual assault survivors and some counselors to try to prepare me not to interview them in such a way as to get to the root of their trauma without re traumatizing them, which was, you know, a delicate balance so help us understand that because obviously in your series of reports, you lay out the physical evidence the witness testimonies, everything there was to build a case against Epstein. How do we understand this decision? Not to prosecute. What do we know about what happened behind the scenes before a cost of made that decision we actually know a lot because these girls after the? Deal was signed. They file a federal lawsuit against the government alleging and claiming that they violated the crime victims Rights Act because they they didn't inform these girls of this plea bargaining, and they kept it secret. And as part of this lawsuit, the government had to turn over a lot of emails and letters and those emails and letters showed a pretty collegial relationship between the prosecutors and Epsteins lawyers, and we know now the federal judge yesterday said that that that plea deal the way that it was signed without notifying victims that was illegal Sarah Sanders over at the White House was asked about that today. Because as we've noted mister Acosta is now the labor secretary under President Trump. She said it's something they're looking into. But I guess from the victim's perspective, those women you have spoken with what is it that they want to see happen? Now, what is Justice and accountability? Look like all these years later. Well, you know, they really want to see him go to prison. They wanna see him. Punished. For the crimes that he committed. We know because of evidence that has come to light over the past several years that he wasn't just doing this in Palm Beach. He's accused of trafficking girls in New York and other places around the world and. The question is out. There is why haven't federal authorities reopened this case, or at least a opened a new case in another jurisdiction. And I think that these women feel that prosecutors in the Justice department has just worked to help cover up this case rather than expose an Epstein did. And and to find some kind of Justice for for these girls a lot of questions still remain, Julie Kate Brown. It's an incredible piece of reporting you've done for the Miami Herald. Thank you so much for being with us today.