- The Washington Times
Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Labor Secretary Alex Acosta on Tuesday defended the controversial 2008 plea deal he made with billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

“The crimes committed by Epstein are horrific, and I am pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence,” he wrote in a series of tweets.

Mr. Acosta has come under fire for the deal he helped secure while serving as the U.S. attorney for Florida. The agreement allowed Mr. Epstein — who was accused of sexually assaulting dozens of underage girls at his Palm Beach, Florida, mansion — to avoid a possible life sentence. Instead, Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty to state prostitution charges and ended up serving 13 months in a county jail.

After federal prosecutors in New York lodged fresh charges sex traffic charges against Mr. Epstein, several high-ranking Democrats have demanded Mr. Acosta’s resignation.

Mr. Epstein has pleaded not guilty to the New York charges.

Mr. Acosta on Tuesday said the deal was made based on the available evidence at that time.

“With the evidence available more than a decade ago, federal prosecutors insisted that Epstein go to jail, register as a sex offender and put the world on notice that he was a sexual predator,” he wrote.

“Now that the new evidence and additional testimony is available, the NY prosecution offers an important opportunity to more fully bring him to justice,” Mr. Acosta added.

Some Democrats and advocacy groups slammed Mr. Acosta’s tweets, noting that a federal judge earlier this year held that the Epstein plea agreement violated the law because it prosecutors did not seek approval from his alleged victims.

“Its all well and good for Acosta to talk now about what prosecutors insisted on, but the fact is such insisting from Acosta apparently didn’t matter for the end result,” said Zach Hiner, executive director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “What does matter is that a judge has ruled that Acosta’s actions broke the law and that he should step down as a result.”

Kyle Herrig, senior adviser to Allied Progress, a left-leaning watchdog group, blasted Mr. Acosta for failing to apologize to victims or take responsibility for his role. He also called upon the lawmakers on both sides to hold hearing on Mr. Acosta’s actions.

“But while Acosta and President Trump may hope for this all to go away, Congress needs to assert its oversight authority and make sure there’s a full accounting of how a serial sex abuser was left on the streets for ten years,” Mr. Herrig said. “Alex Acosta may consider his work on the Epstein case a ‘point of pride,’ but to everyone else, it looks like business as usual: one set of rules for the rich and powerful, another set for everyone else. Acosta must answer for his record on Jeffrey Epstein.”

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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