Seal deal for Jeffrey Epstein and friends: Media may be barred from hearing

by WorldTribune Staff, March 3, 2019

As it has from the beginning, the press is being met with resistance by those seeking to keep under wraps the details of the possible extent of Jeffrey Epstein’s pedophilia, and his connections with a number of influential figures.

Lawyers are attempting to keep the press out of an upcoming hearing to unseal documents in the alleged sex trafficking of underage girls by the Palm Beach multimillionaire and the possible involvement of his well-connected friends, the Miami Herald reported on March 1.

Jeffrey Epstein

An attorney for lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who represented Epstein, wrote a letter to the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit asking whether the media should be excluded from the upcoming proceeding because his oral arguments on behalf of his client could contain sensitive information that has been under seal, the Herald reported.

Barbara Petersen, executive director of the First Amendment Foundation, noted that since the judges are well aware that sealed documents are at the heart of the appeal, the lawyers’ request comes across more as a “veiled threat.”

“It’s like ‘if you don’t keep out the media, then we are going to reveal stuff and let the chips fall where they may,’ ’’ she said. “They don’t want it to come out and they don’t want to make a motion and ban the media, so they are hoping the judges do it for them.”

In 2008, Epstein reached a non-prosecution deal in which he ended up spending just 13 months in the county jail in a sexual abuse investigation that involved at least 40 teenage girls. He could have received life in prison. The light sentencing deal was engineered by then-Miami U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta, currently the Secretary of Labor.

In its March 1 report, the Herald said it was hoping “to shed more light on the scope of Epstein’s crimes, who was involved and whether there was any undue influence that tainted the criminal justice process.”

The judge in Epstein’s case had allowed a trove of documents, including testimony by witnesses, to be sealed. Dershowitz, having been publicly implicated in Epstein’s crimes, tried unsuccessfully to get the judge to unseal a select number of documents that he says would exonerate him.

Oral arguments are scheduled this week to hear an appeal by the Miami Herald and other parties seeking to unseal a 2015 court case involving Epstein.

According to the Herald’s report, the case – which was settled in 2017 – involved Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who sued Epstein’s partner, British socialite and environmentalist Ghislaine Maxwell, in federal court in the Southern District of New York in 2015. Giuffre had asserted that Maxwell and Epstein trafficked her and other underage girls, often at sex parties that Epstein hosted at his homes in New York, New Mexico, Palm Beach and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Maxwell called her a liar. Giuffre sued for defamation.

A legal brief supporting the Herald’s appeal was filed in December by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 32 other media companies, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Dow Jones, Fox News, Gannett, Politico, Reveal Center for Investigative Reporting and Tribune Publishing Co.

Marc J. Randazza, the attorney for blogger Michael Cernovich, who had filed a motion to release a portion of the sealed documents, said “I’ve seen partial seals, but I’ve never seen anything where it went quite that far. That in of itself is newsworthy. What kind of power here is able to influence our court system in such a big way? Something is amiss and I’m glad that journalists are out there looking at it.”

The 2008 deal allowed Epstein to plead guilty to two prostitution charges in state court. In exchange, Epstein and a number of others were given federal immunity.

Last week, a federal judge ruled that Acosta violated the law because he and other prosecutors deliberately kept the deal secret from Epstein’s victims, who are now in their late 20s and early 30s.

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