New York Times: Who Protected Jeffrey Epstein?
Mr. Epstein is not the only one due a reckoning with justice.
By The Editorial Board
At first glance, the Epstein saga looks like another example of how justice is not, in fact, blind — of how it tilts toward the powerful at the expense of the vulnerable. Mr. Epstein, who has claimed to have made his fortune managing other rich people’s money, was not just wealthy; he was politically and socially wired, hobnobbing with such boldfaced names as Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump.
He donated tens of millions of dollars to institutions like Harvard University, which he never attended but where he financed construction of a campus building and formed strong connections to faculty members and administrators. He is also known for having amassed a quirky “collection” of scientists, in whom he liberally invested over the years.
Upon closer examination, this case offers an even more warped picture of justice. Mr. Epstein retained a cadre of high-price, high-profile lawyers who went after prosecutors with everything they had — at least according to Mr. Acosta. In 2011, facing criticism over the plea agreement, Mr. Acosta complained about having endured “a yearlong assault” by Mr. Epstein’s legal sharks. During his 2017 confirmation hearings to become labor secretary, Mr. Acosta claimed to have forged the best deal possible under the circumstances.
That is hardly comforting. It betrays a system in which the rich and well-connected can bully public officials into quiescence — or into pursuing a deal so favorable to the accused that it runs afoul of the law.
Neither should Mr. Acosta and his former team members be allowed to wave off the tough or awkward questions that are likely to arise going forward. Under pressure from Congress, the Justice Department has opened a review into the handling of the case, and last Wednesday a federal appeals court in New York ordered the unsealing of up to 2,000 pages of related documents. Already, distressing new details are surfacing in the case. Most notably, when Mr. Epstein’s Manhattan residence was searched over the weekend, according to a court filing from prosecutors, law enforcement officials recovered “hundreds — and perhaps thousands — of sexually suggestive photographs of fully- or partially-nude females,” some of which “appear to be of underage girls.”
In his request that Mr. Epstein be held without bail, the United States attorney for New York’s Southern District, Geoffrey Berman, noted, “The defendant, a registered sex offender, is not reformed, he is not chastened, he is not repentant.”
Whatever new details emerge, whatever new participants may be implicated, whatever public officials are found to have failed in protecting Mr. Epstein’s victims, the time for secrecy and excuses and sweetheart deals is over. Mr. Epstein’s victims have waited long enough for answers, and they deserve justice.