A Justice Department report has found that former Labor Secretary Alex Acosta exercised “poor judgment” in handling an investigation into wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein when he was a top federal prosecutor in Florida, per the AP. The report is a culmination of an investigation by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility over Acosta’s handling of a secret plea deal with Epstein, who had been accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls. Under the 2008 non-prosecution agreement—also known as an NPA—Epstein pleaded guilty to state charges in Florida of soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution. That allowed him to avert a possible life sentence and instead serve 13 months in a work-release program. He also was required to make payments to victims and register as a sex offender.
The investigation centered on two aspects of the Epstein case—whether prosecutors erred or committed misconduct by resolving the allegations through a non-prosecution agreement, and also whether they mishandled interactions with victims in the case. The report concludes that none of the attorneys committed misconduct in their interactions with the victims because there was no “clear and unambiguous duty” to consult with victims before entering into the non-prosecution agreement. Epstein was later charged by federal prosecutors in Manhattan for nearly identical allegations in 2019, but he took his own life while in federal custody as he awaited trial. The Justice Department’s internal probe concluded that Acosta’s “decision to resolve the federal investigation through the NPA constitutes poor judgment.”
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