The real extent of multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein's role in an alleged international sex trafficking operation, and that of his former partner, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, is getting closer to being dug out from a stack of sealed court documents in New York.
Those records could fill in some of the gaps surrounding Alexander Acosta's suspect actions that allowed Epstein to skirt justice when Florida law enforcement had him on the hook for allegedly sexually abusing dozens of girls in Palm Beach. Acosta, now U.S. secretary of labor, was U.S. attorney in charge of the Southern District of Florida at the time of this case 10 years ago.
Last week, a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York gave Maxwell and her attorneys until March 19 to establish "good cause" as to why the court papers should remain sealed. If they fail to do so, the summary judgment and supporting documents will be made public.
For the second time in less than a month, a court ruling got it right, amplifying the chorus of victims, judges, editorial boards—especially this one—and appalled Americans demanding justice. If the unsealed records reveal more unspeakable crimes against young women, then—as we have said repeatedly—Acosta should resign, something we think he ought to have done already. He failed to punish the politically connected Epstein when he had the chance, instead agreeing to a deal giving—perhaps "gifting" is closer to the truth—Epstein 18 months in a county jail with perks; he served just 13.
The dormant Epstein case rose to the front pages with the Miami Herald's "Perversion of Justice" investigation by reporter Julie K. Brown, which showed that Acosta and other prosecutors deliberately kept Epstein's victims in the dark so that they could not appear at his sentencing and hurt his plea deal.
Last month, U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra, based in West Palm Beach, ruled that Acosta and his assistant prosecutors flat-out broke the law when they hid the plea agreement from at least 30 underage victims accusing Epstein of sexual abuse. This violation of the Crime Victims' Rights Act, a federal law that grants victims certain rights, meant none of the victims could appear in court.
In the appeals court case in New York, the sealed documents stem from a 2017 civil case related to when Epstein associate Maxwell was sued for slander for calling Virginia Roberts Giuffre, one of Epstein's accusers, a liar. Giuffre, then 16, said she was working at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort when she was approached by Maxwell about becoming a masseuse for the hedge fund manager. That soon evolved into a sexual pyramid scheme. Epstein paid local girls $200 to give him massages. He offered the same amount if they'd recruit other girls. The massages would turn into sex. The feds were looking into allegations that girls were trafficked across state lines and even internationally when the investigation was closed.
Maxwell is fighting to keep the case file sealed. Obviously, we think otherwise. There is no "good cause" for any further secrecy. It would only pile injustice on top of injustice.