Department of Labor secretary Alex Acosta defended his role in a deal with accused pedophile Jeffrey Epstein during a press conference Wednesday amid calls he should resign from the Trump administration.
Acosta argued that he actually strengthened the case against Epstein in Florida as opposed to watering it down, as some have accused him of doing. The deal, made in 2008, meant that Epstein pleaded guilty to solicitation of underage prostitutes in exchange for serving 13 months of jail time and registering as a sex offender. (RELATED: Trump’s Labor Secretary Under Fire For Sweetheart Deal With Jeffrey Epstein)
According to Acosta, the original charges against Epstein brought forth by state prosecutors would have ended with no jail time for the billionaire. Instead, Acosta’s office took over the case and arranged a deal to make sure Epstein went to jail or faced harsher federal charges.
“[Epstein] would have avoided prison all together. But then the United States attorney’s office in Miami became involved. Epstein got an ultimatum. Plead guilty to a charge is that would require jail time and registration or face federal charges. And that was the week more than ten years ago that Epstein went to jail,” Acosta said, describing the deal. “We did what we did because we wanted Epstein to go to jail. He needed to go to jail…that was the focus.” Acosta added.
He continued, “Simply put, the Palm Beach State Attorney’s office was ready to let Epstein walk free, no jail time, nothing. Prosecutors in my former office found this to be completely unacceptable. And they became involved. Our office became involved.”
Acosta also claimed that department policy at the time was to blame for a federal judge finding that the U.S. attorney’s office did not appropriately notify victims of the deal.
Epstein is now facing additional charges of child sex trafficking, according to an unsealed indictment in New York City. Epstein has pleaded not guilty to the new charges, which accuse him of creating a “network” of young victims of sexual abuse. Acosta said, “He’s a bad man and he needs to be put away.”