Billionaire Escapes Trafficking Charges

Billionaire Escapes Trafficking Charges

For Palm Beach sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, house arrest in home stretch
By Michele Dargan
Daily News Staff Writer
Palm Beach billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein will be a free man when his year of probation ends Wednesday for sex crimes he committed against under-aged girls.

Epstein has settled more than two dozen lawsuits and claims against him by teen-agers who say they were lured to his Palm Beach mansion to give him sexually charged massages and/or sex in exchange for money. The terms of all settlements are confidential.

The man described as a brilliant money manager and mathematician walks away with a lifelong label — registered sex offender.

From the deal he struck with state and federal prosecutors to his liberal probation, the word “unusual” is often used by those familiar with sex offender crimes to describe Epstein’s case.

A secret deal with federal prosecutors revealed Epstein could have been charged with multiple federal counts of sexual exploitation of minors, resulting in much harsher penalties. But the feds deferred to two state charges that got him an 18-month sentence.

Serving 13 months, segregated in a vacant wing of the county stockade, Epstein was let out on work release six days a week for up to 16 hours a day.

Epstein, 57, retained some of the best lawyers in the country to get what many have described as a sweetheart deal. The cadre of attorneys include Miami attorney Roy Black, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and local heavy hitters Jack Goldberger and Robert Critton, among others.

Richard Wright, author of Sex Offender Laws, said it’s not unusual for federal prosecutors to defer to state charges.

“The part that I find odd is that there were multiple minor victims of sex crimes,” said Wright, a professor of criminal law at Bridgewater State College near Boston.

“Those are taken pretty seriously. Prosecutors tend to be harsher in that situation. Multiple victims and an 18-month sentence: that’s unusual. Money does buy justice. If a defendant has money or large sums of money, it does influence the process.”

West Palm Beach attorney Craig Williams spent 16 years as a state prosecutor and was not involved in the Epstein case.

“In a typical case, [the sexual contact] is unwanted,” Williams said. “In this case, the girls were making money and he took advantage of it. ... He hired great attorneys, and he got a spectacular deal. No doubt about it. “

Williams said the case is unusual in that victims were able to get restitution. In a normal case, the perpetrator goes to prison and the victims get nothing, he said.

“A normal person doesn’t have the ability to give justice out in money,” Williams said. “The bottom line: when you throw money into the mix, everything changes.”

Epstein’s attorneys insist he received no special treatment.

His attorneys have said the fact these girls were minors doesn’t matter. They were not victims, but willing participants. Epstein’s attorneys have said repeatedly: The girls were after his money. They knew what they were doing. They were prostitutes and strippers before they interacted with Epstein.

Attorney Spencer Kuvin, who secured settlements for two victims, said the bottom line is they were minors.

“Does that mean we should let every child molester go because we can’t find a teenager with no baggage?” Kuvin said. “He specifically sought out girls who were damaged — emotionally or otherwise. He went after poor, underprivileged, troubled girls so that he could take advantage of them and no one would question it. What if he was going after young girls on Palm Beach island? I guarantee things would have been different. He was bottom fishing in Royal Palm Beach and got away with it.”

Kuvin and others who represented the minors say they are happy their cases are settled and their clients can try to put the past behind them.

But many are not happy with the plea deal and the relaxed house arrest conditions Epstein received.

During his yearlong house arrest, Epstein flew around the country on his private jets to conduct business, with approval from the court and his probation officer. He also went to Home Depot and Sports Authority for large periods of time, all approved by his probation officer.

Speculation abounds as to whether Epstein will stay in Palm Beach or sell his El Brillo Way mansion — the site of the crimes — and move far from Palm Beach. He already has homes in Manhattan, New Mexico and a private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

http://www.palmbeachdailynews.com/news/for-palm-beach-sex-offender-jeffrey-epstein-house-808694.html

 

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