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Sex crimes and punishment
March 18, 2019

Millionaire Jeffrey Epstein reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors in 2007 that allowed him to serve just 13 months in county jail on two Florida state charges of soliciting a prostitute, at least one of whom was a minor. That deal, approved by former prosecutor and current Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, was already widely seen as overly lenient before a federal judge ruled last month that Acosta's team violated the Crime Victims' Rights Act.

The underage victim Epstein pleaded guilty to having sex with was 16, not the 14-year-old girl who first alerted police to Epstein's underage sexual activities, The Washington Post reported Sunday night. "The decision to charge Epstein with a crime involving an older teen," confirmed by state prosecutors, "has eased his obligations to register as a sex offender." In more than half of U.S. states, the age of consent is 16. So in New Mexico — where Epstein owns a 7,600-acre ranch — for example, he does not have to register as a sex offender because his listed victim was 16; in Florida and the Virgin Islands, Epstein is classified as a lower-risk offender.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra said that in reviewing the federal non-prosecution agreement, he saw evidence that Epstein violated sex trafficking laws and abused at least 30 girls between 1997 and 2007, and an investigation by the Miami Herald found 80 girls and women who said they were victimized by Epstein. Prosecutors "had a grab bag of 40 girls to choose from" in charging Epstein, Spencer Kurvin, a lawyer representing the 14-year-old victim, told the Post. "The rug has been swiped out from under the one girl who was brave enough to come forward and break this thing."

Epstein lawyer Martin Weinberg told the Post his client "has fully complied with all applicable registration obligations under federal and local law, and will continue to do so." You can read more about Epstein's sex-offender registration issues at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

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