New grand jury transcripts in Epstein case show prosecutors knew accusations

A Florida judge on Monday unveiled 150 pages of grand jury transcripts from 2006 that looked into sex trafficking and rape allegations made against financier Jeffrey Epstein. 

The newly released documents from 18 years ago unveiled by Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Luis Delgado revealed that prosecutors knew about detailed accusations against Epstein — years before the financier was given a sweetheart deal.

According to 2006 testimony, the investigation against Epstein began a year earlier. Two victims were questioned during the proceedings — including one who alleged that Epstein, then in his 50s, molested her when she was 14 years old.

The second victim said she was raped by Epstein the day before her 18th birthday.

A detective on the case testified that victims were paid for the sex acts and encouraged to recruit other underaged girls and told “the younger, the better.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill in February allowing the release of the documents on July 1 or afterward. Florida grand jury transcripts are usually kept secret, but the bill created an exemption for cases like Epstein’s.

“There needs to be a mechanism in some of these rare circumstances where people can get the truth and where we can try to pursue justice,” DeSantis said when signing the bill.

Despite the gravity of the accusations, Epstein cut a deal with prosecutors two years later. He spent only 13 months in jail as part of a work release program after pleading guilty to state prostitution crimes. He also had to register as a sex offender.

Some of Epstein’s victims spoke about the case in February.

“We have been left in the dark with no answers to what is going on and why things played out the way that they did,” said Jena-Lisa Jones, one of the alleged victims.

The prosecution has been criticized for their questioning of the victims during the 2006 proceedings, including asking them to acknowledge they had committed prostitution with Epstein. Prosecutors also pointed out that some of the victims had past issues such as drug use and shoplifting.

“One of the big takeaways from the grand jury testimony here is that people knew about this really problematic conduct for a long time and not much was done to stop Jeffrey Epstein,” said Jessica Levinson, a CBS News legal contributor.

Epstein was arrested in 2019 on federal charges for sex trafficking dozens of underage girls. His death in prison before facing trial was ruled a suicide.

Last year, a Department of Justice watchdog said a “combination of negligence and miscoduct” allowed Epstein to take his own life.

Twelve of Epstein’s accusers sued the FBI in February for failure to protect them, according to a complaint filed in federal court in New York. The complaint alleges that tips, reports and complaints about Epstein’s activities were provided to the FBI starting in 1996.

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