Lawyers for Courtney Wild, one of many alleged victims of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, filed a petition with the Supreme Court on Tuesday, asking it to rule on whether prosecutors have to confer with victims before arranging a non-prosecution agreement, such as the widely criticized non-prosecution agreement that Epstein struck in 2008.
Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 to state charges in Florida of soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution, allowing him to avoid more serious federal charges that could have resulted in a life sentence. Instead, he served 13 months in a lenient work-release program, made payments to victims, and registered as a sex offender.
Wild’s lawyers – Bradley Edwards, Jay Howell and Paul Cassell – alleged in Tuesday’s petition that this agreement was struck in secret, which is in violation of victims’ rights under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act.
“In the case below, a child sex trafficker—Jeffrey Epstein—was able to negotiate a secret, pre-indictment non-prosecution agreement (NPA) with federal prosecutors,” Wild’s attorneys wrote. “Even after the agreement was consummated, Government lawyers did not confer with Epstein’s child sex abuse victims about it and misled them about the agreement’s existence.”
The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals expressed sympathy for Wild earlier this year, but ruled that Wild’s rights under the CVRA weren’t violated because the government never filed charges against Epstein.
Wild’s attorneys are challenging that ruling, saying that the “Justice Department’s practice of covertly and deceptively arranging non-prosecution deals” is illegitimate.
“The en banc decision leaves the Government free to negotiate secret, pre-indictment non-prosecution agreements without informing crime victims,” Wild’s attorneys wrote in the petition.
JAIL WHERE JEFFREY EPSTEIN KILLED HIMSELF SHUTTING DOWN ‘AT LEAST TEMPORARILY’
Wild said in Manhattan federal court two years ago that Epstein abused her in Florida when she was as young as 14.
“The government badly mistreated me and many others,” Wild said Tuesday. I’m counting on our United States Supreme Court to take my case and give me my day in court.”
The Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility investigated Epstein’s 2008 NPA last year and found that former Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, who was the top federal prosecutor in Florida at the time, exercised “poor judgment” during the investigation, but the federal government did not violate victims’ rights.
“The subjects did not have a clear and unambiguous duty under the CVRA to consult with victims before entering into the NPA because the USAO resolved the Epstein investigation without a federal criminal charge,” the OPR report found.
The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
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Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite who allegedly recruited teenage girls for Epstein, has unsuccessfully tried to get an indictment against her tossed out on grounds that Epstein’s 2008 NPA also protects her. She is scheduled for trial in November.
Epstein was arrested in July 2019 on almost identical sex trafficking charges, but died of apparent suicide in a Manhattan jail cell weeks later.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.