Was it Lawful for the Justice Department to Reach a Secret Non-Prosecution Agreement with Jeffrey Epstein Without Telling His Victims?
Today I filed a cert petition with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to review whether crime victims can enforce their rights under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA) before prosecutors file charges. The petition, filed by one of the nation’s leading crime victims’ attorneys, Bradley J. Edwards, and me on behalf of one of Epstein’s victims—Courtney Wild—seeks review of a 7-4 en banc decision from the Eleventh Circuit. The Circuit held that the CVRA is only triggered when prosecutors file federal charges. Before then, according to the Eleventh Circuit, prosecutors are free to conceal from victims any deal that they may strike with the target of a federal investigation—as they did in the Epstein case. This issue has sweeping implications for the proper enforcement of the CVRA, and we hope that the Court grants Ms. Wild’s petition to review this very important legal question.
This petition is the latest chapter in more than twelve years of litigation brought by Edwards and me on behalf of Ms. Wild. I’ve blogged about this case numerous times before, including here, here, and here, and co-authored two law review articles on the case, found here and here.
As explained in our petition filed today, between 1999 and 2007, Epstein sexually abused more than 30 minor girls, including Ms. Wild. The FBI investigated the case and referred it to federal prosecutors for prosecution. At this point, the prosecutors prepared a 53-page indictment. They also sent victim notification letters to the victims about their rights under the CVRA, informing them that they had rights under the CVRA—including their right to confer with prosecutors on the case—and that they could enforce those rights in court. A copy of the CVRA rights notification letter the prosecutors sent to Ms. Wild in 2007 is found here.
Ultimately, however, instead of prosecuting Epstein, the federal prosecutors in Florida reached a non-prosecution agreement (NPA) with Epstein blocking not only his prosecution for federal sex crimes but also prosecution of his co-conspirators, in exchange for Epstein’s agreement to plead guilty to two low-level Florida state offenses. It is undisputed that, from the time the federal government began investigating Epstein until the time it concluded the non-prosecution agreement, the Justice Department prosecutors never conferred with Epstein’s victims about the NPA nor even told them that such an agreement was under consideration. Indeed, the Justice Department’s efforts (according to the Eleventh Circuit) “graduated from passive nondisclosure to (or at least close to) active misrepresentation.” Rather than disclosing the NPA it had signed, the Justice Department sent letters to Ms. Wild and other Epstein victims telling them the case was “currently under investigation” and requesting their “continued patience.”
When Epstein’s sexual abuse victims became concerned about what was happening in their cases, in July 2008 Edwards and I filed a CVRA enforcement action alleging t
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