Democratic Women's Caucus calls for investigation into Epstein plea deal

Democratic Women's Caucus calls for investigation into Epstein plea deal
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Members of the Democratic Women’s Caucus and its allies are calling for a pair of House panels to launch investigations into “the circumstances and facts” related to Jeffrey Epstein’s 2008 plea deal following the alleged sex trafficker's apparent suicide over the weekend.

Rep. Lois FrankelLois Jane FrankelCDC chief says it's wrong to call COVID-19 a 'Chinese virus' House lawmakers introduce legislation to promote women's global empowerment Afghan Women: Essential for Peace MORE (D-Fla.), the co-chair of the caucus, is collecting signatures for a letter calling for the House Oversight and Reform Committee as well as the Judiciary panel to investigate the plea deal made for the now-deceased billionaire who faced accusations of trafficking and molesting underage women, according to an email obtained by The Hill.

“Epstein’s case was first reviewed by the former State Attorney for Palm Beach County, Barry Krischer, and was ultimately disposed of through a highly unusual negotiated plea deal approved by the former-U.S. Attorney, and recently-departed Labor Secretary Alex AcostaAlex Alexander AcostaFlorida sheriff ends work release program criticized over Jeffery Epstein The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by National Association of Manufacturers — Whistleblower complaint roils Washington On The Money: Senate confirms Scalia as Labor chief | Bill with B in wall funding advanced over Democrats' objections | Lawyers reach deal to delay enforcement of NY tax return subpoena MORE. Several other U.S. Department of Justice officials also reportedly reviewed and approved the plea deal during the course of its negotiations and execution,” the Democratic letter states.

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The letter — slated to be sent to Oversight Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsMaryland postpones primary over coronavirus fears Maryland governor: 'Simply not enough supplies' on hand to tackle coronavirus Meadows joins White House facing reelection challenges MORE (D-Md.), Oversight ranking member Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanTrump, privacy hawks upend surveillance brawl Top GOP post on Oversight draws stiff competition McConnell, top GOP senators throw support behind surveillance deal as deadline looms MORE (R-Ohio), Judiciary Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerHouse Judiciary Committee postpones hearing with Barr amid coronavirus outbreak House Democrats plead with key committee chairman to allow remote voting amid coronavirus pandemic Pelosi rejects calls to shutter Capitol: 'We are the captains of this ship' MORE (D-N.Y.) and Judiciary ranking member Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsGeorgia makes it easier to get mail-in ballots after delaying primary Overnight Energy: House stimulus aims to stem airline pollution | Environmental measures become sticking point in Senate talks | Progressives propose T 'green stimulus' House bill would ban stock trading by members of Congress MORE (R-Ga.) — also calls for the committees to consider “providing the victims a forum to be heard if they so desire.”

“To the dismay of many, the result of Epstein’s prosecution was a lenient plea deal, under which Epstein was allowed to plead guilty to lesser, prostitution-related charges and received an astoundingly light sentence: only 13 months in a private wing of the county jail where his cell door remained open and a television was installed for his personal use," the letter reads.

"Furthermore, Epstein was permitted to spend six of seven days each week in work release despite being designated as a sex offender by the Court and contrary to existing policies that prohibited the participation of sex offenders in work release programs.”

The letter noted that Epstein was able to plead guilty to minor charges without the victims receiving notification, a move they argue violates the Crime Victims’ Rights Act. The lawmakers want to know why Epstein's accusers were not notified and are requesting answers to a litany of other questions surrounding the case.

“These extraordinary circumstances have been expressly confirmed in the written findings of the federal district court before whom detailed documentary evidence and sworn testimony has been presented,” the letter added.

“The terms of Epstein’s plea deal, work release conditions, and his treatment as a designated sex offender, have all come under severe criticism, and merit further official inquiry.”

The Democratic Women's Caucus said it wants to know why Acosta entered into the non-prosecution plea deal despite Epstein facing a 53-page federal indictment and questioned the “blanket immunity granted to unindicted co-conspirators” as well as why the financier was able to participate in a work-release program given the nature of the crimes, among other issues.

“While we cannot undo the damage Epstein has caused the victims of his abuse, the survivors of Epstein’s exploitation and manipulation deserve a forum to be heard and both they and the public deserve transparency and answers to unresolved questions,” the letter states.

“The victims should be given an opportunity to tell their own stories and the government and law enforcement officials involved be required to explain under oath the highly unusual treatment afforded to Jeffrey Epstein.”

Frankel has spoken out about the 2008 plea deal before and called for a congressional investigation into the agreement following Epstein's death over the weekend. The wealthy financier, who was arrested in July on sex trafficking charges, died in his Manhattan jail cell due to an apparent suicide, officials said.