Epstein Accuser's Lawyers Want Supreme Court Action Against Prosecutors' Secret Deal With Financier
13:06 GMT 01.09.2021 (Updated: 13:23 GMT 06.08.2022)
Jeffrey Epstein died in a New York prison in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, with officials declaring that he committed suicide.
Lawyers for Courtney Wild, one of Jeffrey Epstein's accusers, has asked the US Supreme Court to rule that federal prosecutors violated her rights by failing to consult her before reaching a non-prosecution deal with the now-deceased convicted paedophile.
Wild, 32, claims the multimillionaire financier abused her in Florida when she was just 14. Epstein was accused of sexually abusing more than 30 minor girls between 1999 and 2007.
In 2008, federal prosecutors blocked Epstein's prosecution for federal sex crimes in exchange for the financier pleading guilty to two low-level prostitution-related Florida state offences, something that allowed him to avoid more serious federal charges.
© AP Photo / New York State Sex Offender RegistryFILE - This March 28, 2017, file photo, provided by the New York State Sex Offender Registry, shows Jeffrey Epstein. British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested by the FBI on Thursday, July 2, 2020, on charges she helped procure underage sex partners for the financier
FILE - This March 28, 2017, file photo, provided by the New York State Sex Offender Registry, shows Jeffrey Epstein. British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested by the FBI on Thursday, July 2, 2020, on charges she helped procure underage sex partners for the financier
© AP Photo / New York State Sex Offender Registry
The disgraced financier served 13 months in jail between 2008 and 2009, much of it on a lenient work-release programme, made payments to his victims, and registered as a sex offender.
Wild's lawyers insisted in Tuesday's petition that the so-called "sweetheart agreement" between Epstein and federal prosecutors was concluded covertly counter to the Crime Victims' Rights Act (CVRA).
"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. 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 petition noted.
Earlier this year, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals voiced sympathy for Wild, but ruled that her rights under the CVRA were not violated because the government had never lodged charges against Epstein.
The ruling is being challenged by Wild's attorneys who argued in the petition 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", the lawyers argued.
Wild, for her part, asserted that "the government badly mistreated" her "and many others", adding: "I'm counting on our United States Supreme Court to take my case and give me my day in court".
In July 2019, Epstein was arrested and charged with sex trafficking and sexual abuse after 52-year-old Maria Farmer filed a sworn affidavit in a federal court in New York, alleging that she and her 15-year-old sister had been sexually assaulted by Epstein in 1996.
In August 2019, the 66-year-old was found dead in his prison cell in New York City, with officials later declaring that he had committed suicide.
The cause of his death, however, remains disputed amid conspiracy theories wondering whether he was murdered to keep Epstein from testifying against his high-profile friends, including Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, and Prince Andrew.