Calls Increase for Trump Labor Sec. Alexander Acosta To Resign

Julia Conley February 22, 2019

Trump Labor Sec. Alexander Acosta. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

A U.S. Dis­trict judge ruled Thurs­day that U.S. Labor Sec­re­tary Alexan­der Acos­ta com­mit­ted a crime in 2007 when, as a U.S. pros­e­cu­tor at the time, he secret­ly gave a lenient plea deal to a polit­i­cal­ly-con­nect­ed bil­lion­aire accused of sex traf­fick­ing under­age girls.

In a case brought by vic­tims of bil­lion­aire and Trump asso­ciate Jef­frey Epstein, Judge Ken­neth Mar­ra found that Acos­ta and oth­er fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors vio­lat­ed the Crime Vic­tims’ Rights Act by bro­ker­ing a plea deal with Epstein, allow­ing him to serve only 13 months in a coun­ty jail for his crimes, and then seal­ing the agreement.

The rul­ing came near­ly three months after the Mia­mi Her­alds explo­sive report on the plea deal, which prompt­ed the Jus­tice Depart­ment to begin an inves­ti­ga­tion into the pros­e­cu­tors’ conduct.

Mar­ra’s deci­sion led to renewed calls for Acos­ta — who was appoint­ed by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and who as head of the Labor Depart­ment is respon­si­ble for com­bat­ing sex traf­fick­ing — to resign.

By seal­ing Epstein’s plea agree­ment, Acos­ta stole from more than 30 of Epstein’s vic­tims — some of whom were as young as 13 when they were recruit­ed by his paid employ­ees and then coerced into sex acts by him — the chance to attend Epstein’s sen­tenc­ing and demand a harsh­er punishment.

While the gov­ern­ment spent untold hours nego­ti­at­ing the terms and impli­ca­tions of the [agree­ment] with Epstein’s attor­neys, scant infor­ma­tion was shared with vic­tims,” Mar­ra found.

The gov­ern­ment-aligned them­selves with Epstein, work­ing against his vic­tims, for 11 years,” Brad Edwards, the attor­ney rep­re­sent­ing the women who sur­vived Epstein’s abuse, told the Her­ald. Yes, this is a huge vic­to­ry, but to make his vic­tims suf­fer for 11 years, this should not have hap­pened. Instead of admit­ting what they did, and doing the right thing, they spent 11 years fight­ing these girls.”

Epstein’s vic­tims and the U.S. gov­ern­ment now have 15 days to come to a res­o­lu­tion fol­low­ing Mar­ra’s ruling.

This piece first appeared at Com­mon Dreams.

Julia Con­ley is a Maine-based staff writer for Com­mon Dreams.
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