The former hedge fund manager and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls, won’t have to hear the survivors testify against him—at least for now—thanks to a last-minute settlement in a long-running lawsuit on Tuesday.
In Epstein’s initial suit against attorney Bradley Edwards, which was filed nearly a decade ago, Epstein accused him of representing women coming forward to make allegations against Epstein in order to distract from the crimes of Scott Rothstein, the leader of Edwards’ former law firm, according to the Miami Herald. Edwards filed a counterclaim accusing Epstein of suing him maliciously in an effort to derail his work with Epstein’s accusers.
In 2007, Alexander Acosta, who’s now Donald Trump’s Labor Secretary, negotiated a non-prosecution agreement in Epstein’s case when he was the top federal prosecutor for South Florida. At the time, that agreement shut down an ongoing FBI investigation into the “large, cult-like network of underage girls...to coerce into having sex acts...as often as three times a day” that Epstein allegedly created, according to reporting by the Herald. As part of the deal, Acosta also agreed to keep the deal a secret from the victims.
As the Washington Post reported, Acosta wrote in a “To whom it may concern” letter that he backed off Epstein’s case because of Epstein’s “army of legal superstars,” among them Ken Starr, who led the investigation which led to Bill Clinton’s impeachment. Epstein was also politically connected and had friendships with Clinton and Trump, both of whom Edwards’ lawyers attempted to depose for the trial.
In the countersuit settlement, Epstein’s lawyers read an apology to Edwards, according to the AP. Edwards had hoped that his trial, the countersuit, would have given his clients the chance that Acosta’s deal had originally taken to tell their stories, the Herald reported.
However, Edwards is still seeking justice for his clients—a separate case to undo Acosta’s non-prosecution agreement is currently pending. In that case, he’s argued that the settlement violates the Crime Victims’ Rights Act because Acosta didn’t tell the survivors about the deal.