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Only the most naive would believe that power and wealth aren't the best defense for the guilty.

This is what makes the stomach-turning case against mega-rich financier Jeffrey Epstein so much the more galling. We don't want to believe that what happened in his case could happen in a nation under rule of law.

But it did happen. Epstein got away with amounted to a slap on the wrist in his first case for abusing girls—spending a little more than a year in "jail." In fact, he had the privilege of spending most days at his plush Palm Beach office where he entertained guests including, as The Miami Herald called it, "female friends."

Our hope is that new charges against Epstein will spotlight the scourge of sex trafficking in a way that will produce a new national resolve to confront this darkness.

According to a federal indictment unsealed Monday in New York, Epstein "sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls at his homes" in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Fla., and other locations.

This should have been resolved a decade ago, when Epstein seemed enroute to a federal prison for allegedly sexually abusing dozens of minor girls at his Palm Beach mansion. He skirted federal prosecution in 2008 when Alex Acosta—then U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and now U.S. Labor secretary—stunningly declined to pursue a federal prosecution and allowed Epstein to plead guilty to lesser state prostitution charges. Acosta's pathetic reasoning for buckling—that Epstein brought to town a superstar defense team including former Baylor president Kenneth Starr—was unfitting of any prosecutor.

Epstein served only 13 months of an incredibly lenient 18-month sentence in a Palm Beach jail—an inexplicable sweetheart deal that permitted him to spend 12 hours a day at an office, six days a week, as part of his work-release privileges and provide him immunity from federal prosecution for his sordid activities in Florida. Not until aggressive investigative reporting last November by The Miami Herald exposed the lenient deal and identified about 80 women who said Epstein molested or sexually abused them did this new look at the case pick up steam.

We'll probably never have a full count of the girls Epstein allegedly molested or allowed to be molested. But it is impossible for anyone with a heart and a sound mind not look at this episode with disgust and righteous indignation.

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