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Miami Herald @MiamiHerald
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Long before #MeToo became the catalyst for a women's movement about sexual assault — and a decade before the fall of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and U.S. Olympic gymnastic doctor Larry Nassar — there was Jeffrey Edward Epstein.

#PerversionofJustice
Multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein was accused of sexually assaulting dozens of teen girls. Their stories were dismissed by prosecutors, who cut Epstein a lenient deal. His victims have never had a voice, until now.

Part 1 of #PerversionofJustice: miamiherald.com/news/local/art…
"I don't think anyone has been told the truth about what Jeffrey Epstein did," said Michelle Licata, now 30. "He ruined my life and a lot of girls' lives. People need to know what he did and why he wasn't prosecuted so it never happens again."
What he did, according to interviews with victims and police, was lure girls, aged 13 to 16, to his mansion for a "massage." He would molest them, paying extra for oral sex and intercourse, and offering more money to bring him new girls, like an underage sex pyramid scheme.
The evidence police collected to support the victims' stories was impressive. "We had victims who didn't know each other, never met each other and they all basically told the same story."
Epstein could have spent life in prison, but he only served a little more than a year in jail. Why? A secret deal was struck — an extraordinary plea arrangement — with help from future Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta.
Documents show Acosta, then a federal prosecutor, didn't just buckle under pressure from Epstein's lawyers; he and other prosecutors worked *with* them to contain the case — even as the FBI was uncovering evidence of a wider sex trafficking operation.
The secretive deal allowed Epstein to quietly plead guilty to two felony prostitution charges. He admitted to committing only one offense against one underage girl, who was labeled a prostitute, even though she was just 14.
"She was was taken advantage of twice — first by Epstein, and then by the criminal justice system that labeled a 14-year-old girl as a prostitute," said the girl's lawyer.
The pact Epstein negotiated with federal prosecutors was sealed so that no one — not even his victims — could know the full scope of his crimes. Court records, letters and emails show that the deal was negotiated, signed and executed behind victims' backs.
Two police officers were willing to risk their careers to go after Epstein. They said they felt pressured by the state attorney to drop the investigation and downgrade it to a misdemeanor.
But they continued their work, finding evidence that supported the girls' allegations: Phone calls and messages like, "Tanya can't come at 7 p.m. tomorrow because she has soccer practice," and naked photographs of girls in Epstein's closet.
"I always hoped that the plea would be thrown out and that these teenage girls, who were labeled as prostitutes by prosecutors, would get to finally shed that label and see him go to prison where he belongs," said one detective.
That detective died in May.

#PerversionofJustice Part 2: miamiherald.com/news/local/art…
On the morning of his sentencing, none of Epstein's victims were in the courtroom — and that was by design. The victims couldn't voice their objections or possibly sway the judge to give Epstein a harsher sentence or reject the plea agreement altogether.
One victim, Courtney Wild, who was 14 when she met Epstein, is suing the federal government, alleging that prosecutors kept victims in the dark as part of a conspiracy to give Epstein one of the most lenient deals for a serial child sex abuser in history.
Once behind bars, #JeffreyEpstein didn't go to state prison like most sex offenders in Florida. He didn’t even spend much time in his cell.
He was allowed to leave for work release six days a week. His year of "house arrest" included trips to New York and the Virgin Islands.

Part 3 of #PerversionofJustice: miamiherald.com/news/local/art…
Today, ongoing litigation could reveal more about #JeffreyEpstein's crimes and who was involved. A lawsuit is set for trial Dec. 4 in Palm Beach County.
As with every case involving Epstein, this one could further embarrass his once-impressive roster of A-list friends and associations, which included Bill Clinton, President Trump and Prince Andrew.

A guide to Epstein's inner circle: miamiherald.com/news/local/art…
Several women who went to Epstein's home as underage girls are scheduled to testify against him for the first time.

"These guys will get it in the end because us girls are not gonna sit here and just let this keep happening."
.@jkbjournalist analyzed thousands of court records, lawsuits, witness depositions and FBI documents, filing motions in federal court and submitting FOIA requests. She and @EmilyMichot tracked down more than 60 women who say they were victims. miamiherald.com/news/local/art…
If you value investigative reporting like this, SUBSCRIBE, so our journalists can continue this important work. #ReadLocal account.miamiherald.com/subscribe/crea…
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