Secret Epstein documents show prosecutors knew about abuse two years before plea deal

Jeffrey Epstein
Jeffrey Epstein (middle) in a West Palm Beach court in 2008. (Image: AP)

Prosecutors knew Jeffrey Epstein sexually assaulted girls two years before they struck a deal long criticised as a missed chance to stop him, according to newly released transcripts.

The grand jury investigation began in Florida in 2006 – 13 years before he was charged with federal sex trafficking crimes in one of the most notorious cases in recent times.

The surprise release of the transcripts came on Monday, after a new law covering such cases was approved in February.

Normally, Florida grand jury transcripts are kept secret forever.

The documents show the jury heard evidence that Epstein – then in his 40s – had raped girls as young as 14 at his Palm Beach mansion.

The victims said they were often paid – and received extra cash and rented cars if they brought him more girls.

“The testimony taken by the Grand Jury concerns activity ranging from grossly unacceptable to rape – all of the conduct at issue is sexually deviant, disgusting, and criminal,” said circuit judge Luis Degado on Monday.

He said the transcripts showed why Epstein was “the most infamous paedophile in American history”.

They detail how a police detective testified in 2006 that an investigation had been ongoing for a year after a woman said her daughter had been paid $300 for “sexual activity with a man in Palm Beach”.

The detective, Joe Recarey, said the teenager had told him Epstein promised another $200 if she brought other girls – telling her “the younger, the better”.

An aerial view of Little St James Island, Caribbean
Epstein also abused girls on his island in the Caribbean. (Image: Reuters)

 

She told police she eventually brought six girls to the house, including a 14-year-old, and that Epstein rejected one in her early-20s for being too old.

“She explained that there was going to be a massage or some possible touching, and you would have to provide the massage either topless or naked,” the detective told the grand jury.

Another girl said she visited Epstein’s house hundreds of times in the early 2000s, according to the transcripts, and was paid $1,000 when Epstein raped her.

Despite this evidence, in 2008 Epstein agreed a plea deal with Florida prosecutors that meant he dodged more serious federal charges.

He pleaded guilty to procuring a person under 18 for prostitution and solicitation of prostitution, getting just one and a half years in a Florida jail.

Epstein was even allowed to his office most days as part of a work-release programme, before registering as a sex offender and having a year of house arrest.

‘They had a chance to put him away’

Brad Edwards, a lawyer for many of the victims, said the transcripts showed the chief prosecutor, state attorney Barry Krischer, “took the case to the Grand Jury with an agenda – to return minimal, if any, criminal charges against Jeffrey Epstein”.

“A fraction of the evidence was presented, in a misleading way, and the office portrayed the victims as criminals,” he said.

“It is so sad, the number of victims Epstein was able to abuse because the state carried water for him when they had a chance to put him away.”

FILE- Jeffrey Epstein appears in court in West Palm Beach, Fla., July 30, 2008. A modeling agent who was close to disgraced U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein was found dead Saturday in his French jail cell, where he was being held in an investigation into the rape of minors and trafficking of minors for sexual exploitation, according to the Paris prosecutor's office. (Uma Sanghvi/Palm Beach Post via AP, File)
Ghislaine Maxwell is serving a sentence for helping Epstein abuse girls. (Image: AP)

 

Mr Krischer has not yet commented about the transcripts’ release.

Epstein wasn’t charged with federal crimes until 2019, following the Miami Herald publishing fresh stories that included interviews with some victims who were suing him.

The 66-year-old killed himself in a New York prison cell in August 2019.

The fallout from the case exposed Epstein’s links with powerful figures such as Prince Andrew and Bill Clinton – both of whom have denied any wrongdoing.

Epstein’s estate is paying $155m (£122m) to more than 125 victims.

Source:  Sky News news.sky.com

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