The Billionaire Sex Offender Double Standard

Conchita Sarnoff Executive Director, Alliance to Rescue Victims of Trafficking
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An allegation is enough to get anyone in the news these days. For several months there has been an excess of muck tossed about and allegations have been made about Jeffrey Epstein that implicate some very high profile friends.

The government has continued to fail to cooperate with the victims, and the defense have arrogantly distorted reality and deflected from the true travesty of the story.

Wall Street billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, now a level three registered sex offender, allegedly molested 40 girls (that the public is aware of). The federal government rounded them up, took their stories, gathered evidence, and determined they were all victims of sexual abuse and child sex trafficking.

Then the registered level three sex offender, Jeffrey E. Epstein, hired a team of influential lawyers to defend him, meet with prosecutors, possibly influence the state prosecutors and finally according to the Non Prosecution Agreement (NPA) allegedly intimidate the state prosecutors into giving him what he wanted — little or no jail time.

The result of these tactics was that prosecutors allowed the serial child molester to get off lightly in comparison to other sex offenders charged with similar sex crimes committed against underage victims.

Epstein’s punishment does not seem to fit his crime. Given the original indictment I often wonder if Jeffrey Epstein had been born an African-American or Hispanic male with limited resources and no influential friends he could count on, would then his case have been an open and shut deal? I believe the answer is a resounding yes for obvious reasons.

Most child predators in the United States charged with sex crimes perpetrated against minors would in all likelihood be serving time in a federal prison thanks to a U.S. federal law that applies to these types of crimes: the Trafficking Victims Protection Act [TVPA].

The incongruity of the Epstein case brings to light three concerns challenging the Department of Justice. First: If a pedophile or human trafficker does not have an arsenal of resources at his disposal, would the sex offender be more likely to receive a sentence commensurate with the existing law? Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) a minimum mandatory sentence is 20 years in a federal prison, not 13 months in a county jail.

Secondly, would a convicted pedophile or trafficker charged with similar crimes against minor girls be allowed to serve a shorter sentence mostly outside the confines of a jail cell, such as Epstein’s work release program permitted? Do child sex traffickers charged with similar crimes have the ability to negotiate perks in the back rooms of Washington?

In addition to these apparent biases, the government falsely informed the victims that the case was still being investigated and pursued, then finalized a Non Prosecution Agreement (NPA) that gave a child sex trafficker federal immunity from sex crimes against underage girls.

During the negotiations, pending the NPA, the victims were completely in the dark about the entire resolution, and once the NPA was signed there was nothing they could do to change the outcome.

According to one attorney representing a victim: “Neither me, my law firm, or any of my clients were aware that this document was being signed with the federal government. In fact, this secret agreement is being challenged currently in federal court because none of Epstein’s victims had any knowledge that it was being entered into prior to it being signed.”

A year or so later, after cooperating with the government and believing their perpetrator was going to prison and learning that he was granted immunity for the sex crimes committed against them, the survivors filed suit against the government to enforce their federal rights.

In 2008, the victims found two lawyers: Brad Edwards a former lead trial attorney at the Broward County’s State Attorney’s Office in Florida and Paul Cassell, a law professor at the University of Utah Law School and former Federal Judge, who were willing to take on this unprecedented case, pro bono, and successfully litigate it against the government and Epstein’s battery of lawyers for 6 years.

When the moment came for the victims to request the government to provide them with information to prove their case: the government objected then basically refused every request throughout the entire litigation.

In 2014, after the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals decided in favor of the two victims Jane Doe #1 and Jane Doe #2, two additional victims, Jane Doe #3 and Jane Doe #4, sought to join the case to seek an agreement from the government to allow them to assert their rights. The government again disagreed.

The pro bono lawyers were then forced through pleadings to attempt to assert the rights of these additional clients by moving to join them in the preceding. In doing so, the attorneys laid out the brief facts pertaining to Jane Doe #3, including how she was trafficked for sex across the United States and “loaned” to powerful men, friends of Jeffrey Epstein. One of the men may have been one of the lawyers that negotiated the plea deal in question.

The latest surprise in this case is that now the two pro bono lawyers, Cassell and Edwards, are being nationally and internationally vilified.

Given these facts isn’t it is easier to understand how the lawyers representing maintain his innocence in the face of a mountain of evidence? How they can boldly and harshly label the abused girls as “prostitutes” in the media when that is no defense for an adult who solicits sex with a minor? And then attempt to engage in what one characterized as character assassination of the prosecutors?

Doesn’t it seem unusual they requested Epstein’s prosecutors not to inform the victims of a secret deal being worked out behind the scene? Given the thousands of documents filed in this case since 2005, it appears the defendant’s attorneys want their serial child molester client to be perceived as a saint while the victims are the guilty party in the court of public opinion.

And all of that is okay?

In fact, given the blood bath that is taking place, Epstein’s attorneys seem satisfied, proud and glorified of the outcome; an outcome that spotlights the lack of children’s rights in the United States.

When did this world get flipped on its head?