Probe urged in plea deal for sex abuser
MIAMI — More than two dozen lawmakers are demanding an investigation into possible misconduct by U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, who, as a former federal prosecutor in Miami, helped broker a secret plea deal for a multimillionaire accused of running an underage sex trafficking network.
The lawmakers, mostly Democrats, have sent several letters to Michael E. Horowitz, inspector general for the Department of Justice, calling for a probe into Acosta’s role in the 2008 plea deal for Jeffrey Epstein.
Epstein, 65, a Palm Beach hedge fund manager, faced a possible life sentence for molesting dozens of girls, but was instead granted federal immunity as part of a non-prosecution agreement approved by Acosta when he was U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
Thus far, 34 senators and members of the House have called for a probe of the Epstein case, including two Republicans, Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Ben Sasse, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee for oversight.
The requests come one week after the Miami Herald published an investigation, Perversion of Justice, that revealed how federal prosecutors worked with Epstein’s high-profile lawyers to craft a deal that would keep him out of prison. Instead he would serve a brief jail stint.
Acosta agreed, despite a federal law to the contrary, that the deal would be kept from Epstein’s underage victims until after Epstein was sentenced, thereby making it impossible for them to appear in court and possibly derail the agreement.
The Herald identified nearly 80 possible victims, most of them 13 to 16 years old. Several of them, now in their late 20s and early 30s, told the Herald that they felt betrayed by Acosta and other prosecutors who failed to treat them as victims and labeled them as prostitutes — even though they were under the age of consent.
Acosta, 49, was confirmed as President Donald Trump’s labor secretary in April 2017. During his hearings, Sens. Tim Kaine and Patty Murray questioned Acosta about Epstein’s deal but Acosta never explained why he agreed to have it sealed.