On July 12, Alex Acosta, the United States Labor Secretary resigned due to a decade-old controversy. Acosta announced his resignation in front of reporters on Friday morning with President Trump standing right beside him.
During the announcement, Trump said, “He has been a fantastic Secretary of Labor and Alex called me this morning and he wanted to see me and I actually said well ‘we have the press right out here so perhaps you just want to say it to the press’ but I just want to let you know this was him, not me, because I am with him.” Acosta then took to Twitter to post a picture of his official resignation letter to the president.
— Secretary Acosta (@SecretaryAcosta) July 12, 2019
In 2008, Alex Acosta was serving as the US attorney in Miami, Florida. During this time, Acosta approved a sweetheart plea deal for serial sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. An investigation into Epstein’s suspected sex trafficking of underage girls began in 2006. During this, a book of Epstein’s was found with the names and numbers of people like Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, who, at the time, were also suspected of similar crimes.
A year later, despite the substantial evidence that had been found to convict Epstein, a plea deal was made between Acosta and Epstein’s lawyer that would sentence Epstein to spend just 18 months in jail (which was later shortened to 13 months). Epstein also had to register as a sex offender and pay restitution to his victims. In return, his crimes would be sealed in the agreement. There was no justice for his victims and they were not allowed to know of the deal.
The official sentencing in 2008 lasted just over an hour. Epstein had to plead guilty to only two state offenses to meet the deal’s requirements. If the plea deal had not been agreed upon, Epstein’s crimes could have landed him in federal prison with a life sentence. Unlike other sex offenders in Florida, Epstein was able to live out his sentence in a private wing of the Palm Beach County stockade. In addition to all that, Epstein got “work release” for sometimes 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, at his own office. When one is accused of a crime as serious as sex trafficking or pedophilia, it is usually expected that he or she will spend a minimum of ten years in prison up to a life sentence along with registering as a sex offender. The charges brought upon Epstein as a result of the deal by Acosta more closely resemble those of prostitution. Prostitution is a misdemeanor and will result in a fine and jail time of up to a year.
To better put the situation into perspective, in 2014, the case of the United States v. Haskins included a man who was a pimp for girls and women who exploited at least 17 victims online and profited from their trafficking. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Michelle Licata, the first Jane Doe whose identity was kept hidden at the time for safety purposes, was the first one to be approached by the police and tell of her experience with Jeffrey Epstein. She was 16 when she met Epstein and asked to give him a massage in his mansion bedroom before things turned sexual.
“I don’t think anyone has been told the truth about what Jeffrey Epstein did. He ruined my life and a lot of girls’ lives. People need to know what he did and why he wasn’t prosecuted so it never happens again,” said Licata.
This controversy was brought back into the spotlight due to Acosta’s high-standing, influential position in the United States government and close relationship with President Donald Trump. On Monday, July 8th, federal prosecutors in New York unsealed the indictment of Jeffrey Epstein, allowing the rest of the country to know of his crimes. Epstein was arrested on Saturday, July 6th, and is facing prison time of up to 45 years.
The crimes committed by Epstein are horrific, and I am pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence.
— Secretary Acosta (@SecretaryAcosta) July 9, 2019
In a series of Tweets, Acosta addressed the new charges brought upon Epstein. Despite his written support for the new charges against Epstein, Acosta felt the pressure of the press about the original indictment. “Alex Acosta informed me this morning that he felt the constant drumbeat of press about a prosecution which took place under his watch more than 12 years ago was bad for the Administration, which he so strongly believes in, and he graciously tendered his resignation….,” wrote Trump in a Tweet.
The President has also announced that Patrick Pizzella will serve as acting Labor Secretary until further notice.