Why the Jane Does’ CVRA Lawsuit Re Alleged Epstein Child Sex Ring Drags On
This news story has everything it needs to become one of the biggest scandals of the 21st Century: there’s sex and power, of course. Add to that the targeted criminal defendant, Jeffrey Epstein – so rich he owns his own island; political players like Bill Clinton; a famous lawyer and Harvard Law Professor, Alan Dershowitz (who was played by Ron Silver in that movie about Claus Von Bulow); and even British royalty: Prince Andrew has been connected with this story.
It’s a tabloid’s dream, right? However, criminal defense lawyers may see things a bit differently — and as an attorney who has represented clients in sexual assault cases and other serious sex crime felony charges for several years now, I want to share my take on the Epstein case. Here goes.
1. Epstein Criminal Charges: Plea Deal
Jeffrey Epstein was accused long ago of running a child sex ring; there was an investigation undertaken by Florida law enforcement (read the Palm Beach Police Department Probable Cause Affidavit) which led to Epstein being arrested and eventually, entering into a plea bargain with prosecutors. At one point, according to a Palm Beach Incident Report, the offer was made for one count of aggravated assault with intent to commit a felony, five years probation, and adjudication withheld.
Ultimately, a deal was reached and Epstein was sentenced. The documents were sealed, although we know Epstein agreed to plead guilty and serve 18 months in a county jail, and that there has been a recent fight to unseal the file.
To many the sentence seemed very light. On top of that, Jeffrey Epstein only served 13 months behind bars. By 2011, he was out of jail and dismissing what happened to him, telling the press that he was an “offender” not a “sexual predator”. That year, a New York State judge held that Epstein was to be considered a “Level 3 sex offender,” the most serious label for sexual offenses available to him.
2. Jane Doe Victims Come Forward
There are many alleged victims in this case. We don’t know their individual identities; they are being referenced as “Jane Does.” At this point, we are particularly concerned with Jane Doe #1, #2 and most recently, Jane Doe #3 and #4.
All these Jane Does claim that in 2007, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida (USAO/SDFL) entered into a binding Non-prosecution Agreement (NPA) with Jeffrey Epstein wherein the USAO agreed to not prosecute him or any other potential co-conspirators in the alleged child sex ring Epstein was operating between 2001 and 2006.
Jane Doe #1 and #2 and their Crime Victims’ Rights Act Request
Jane Doe #1 filed an emergency petition on July 8, 2008, before Federal District Judge Kenneth Marra for the Southern District of Florida shortly after her attorney learned of the NPA. Jane Doe’s lawsuit claim that the Government’s attorneys violated a Federal Law known as the Crime Victims’ Rights Act of 2004 (CVRA).
In particular, Jane Doe #1, subsequently joined in her fight by Jane Doe #2, wanted the USAO/SDFL to rescind the NPA with Epstein so that they could assert their rights under the CVRA. Under federal law, crime victims have certain rights to “confer” with Federal Prosecutors about the case while it’s still being actively investigated or prosecuted either before or during the case is brought to court.
The CVRA does NOT give crime victims the right to dictate to the Government what deal the prosecution should offer a Defendant, or how much restitution money the Defendant should be made to pay each victim. In this case, it’s clear that at least Jane Doe #1 lawyered up with a civil law firm and that firm sent correspondence to the USAO/SDFL all before the NPA deal with Epstein was struck.
As for the factual basis for their allegations, you can get a pretty good idea about what Jane Doe #1 and Jane Doe #2 are alleging happened to them by reading their Motion For Findings.
Basically, the Government agrees that it DID violate the CVRA. The Government agrees that it didn’t “confer” with any of the crime victims about the NPA prior to the deal being struck with Epstein’s all-star team of lawyers who included Alan Dershowitz and Kenneth Starr.
The Government, however, believed that the Jane Does simply didn’t have “standing” to bring a federal lawsuit even though the CVRA (d)(5) specifically authorizes a crime victim to make an application to “re-open” a plea deal if the NPA was violated.
That’s exactly what the Jane Does want to do: they want to “re-open” the federal Jeffrey Epstein case. After the U.S. Government’s lawyers made their absurd arguments asking District Judge Marra to dismiss the Jane Does’ case, Judge Marra denied their motion. It’s particularly interesting to read his order denying the government’s motion to dismiss because he takes such a condescending tone toward the Government’s position in this case.
As a lawyer, I can sense Judge Marra’s real frustration with the Government after I read his opinion. Can you?
Judge Marra’s Opinion
Judge Marra’s opinion is worth a very close read because he basically gives the U.S. Government an easy out. Judge Marra held, “This injury can be redressed by setting aside the agreement [NPA] and requiring the government to handle its disposition of the Epstein case in keeping with the mandates of the CVRA, including the pre-charge conferral obligations of the government.”
In other words, Judge Marra denied the Government’s motion to dismiss but gave the U.S. Government an easy way of making the aging lawsuit go away.
Put simply, the Government CAN likely get the Jane Does’ lawsuit dismissed if they simply set aside the NPA and “re-open” the investigation.
At which time, the Government would be required to comply with the CVRA’s conference with the victims requirement.
One would think this could be done easily. All of the victims would get a chance to communicate with the USAO/SDFL and express their wishes. The Government’s lawyers could then sign a new NPA which is the same as the old one and give Epstein credit for the time he already served in jail.
So, as I criminal defense lawyer, I am left to wonder why the Government simply won’t do what Judge Marra is basically begging them to do.
- Could it have something to do with the right to confer with the Government?
- Is the U.S. Government worried that if they “re-open” the case, the Jane Does would amend their suit and claim another violation of the CVRA and, if so, what would that new allegation be?
Something to consider: maybe the Jane Does would claim their right to confer entitles them to be made aware of all communications between the Government’s Attorneys and Alan Dershowitz and Kenneth Starr.
Jane Does #3 and #4 File Motion to Join With Jane Doe #1 and Jane Doe #2
Recently Jane Does #3 and #4 came forward and filed their Joinder Motion in this CVRA lawsuit.
This is where things get very interesting. For one thing, Jane Doe #3 filed a 23-page affidavit filled with sordid details to support her request to join in the lawsuit filed by Jane Does #1 and #2 — and she’s attached some photos, too. Lots of famous names appear in Jane Doe #3’s Affidavit.
What’s Happening Here? My Take on Things
1. The NPA.
The NPA is VERY strange mostly due to the government’s grant of immunity to unknown and uncharged co-conspirators. This is unenforceable and borderline unethical. No lawyer can bargain on behalf of a client for whom he does not represent. That’s what was done here.
What if one of the alleged co-conspirators wanted to have their day in court? It seems unlikely but every person charged has that right.
Also, what if the government were to violate the NPA and prosecute one of the coconspirators? Epstein couldn’t seek to undo the NPA because he lacks standing to do so. An NPA like this is simply not done and is unheard of in federal and state criminal law circles.
2. Charges Made Against Dershowitz.
I am very skeptical of the charges against Alan Dershowitz. Jane Does #3 and #4 came on the scene in the lawsuit several years after its inception, even though they were aware of the lawsuit. Their claims will need to be backed up with real evidence — and making claims that Dershowitz visited Epstein’s homes all over the country does mean much to me.
In particular, the Jane Does have had other opportunities to file charges in other states like New Mexico but haven’t done so. Why not? We will see how much there is to these claims. It is now believed that Jane Doe #3 who claims to have had sex with Dershowitz a number of times is, in fact, Virginia Roberts. Lately, she’s even claimed that the she thinks the Government is in possession of video evidence which demonstrates the sex with Dershowitz.
Shortly after Virginia Roberts and Jane Doe#4 sought to be added as Plaintiffs, the Government filed an affidavit from FBI Special Agent Timothy Slater, who was assigned to the Epstein investigation. FBI Slater Affidavit is Slater’s statements. The name of the person about whom Agent Slater gives the affidavit is blacked out. However, one might assume that the subject of the affidavit is Virginia Roberts dues to the timing of this filing, since it was filed shortly after her Joinder Motion.
3. What the Government Has To Lose Here.
I believe the U.S. Government has the most to lose from this lawsuit. It’s clear to me that there was some high level correspondence between Epstein’s lawyers, who included Kenneth Starr and high level prosecutors.
I doubt this case was handled without some consultation with big wig US Attorneys in DC. I really think this what the Government seek to hide.
This is why (IMHO) the Federal Government simply can’t re-open the case against Epstein and resolve the matter with another NPA after fulfilling their obligations under the CVRA to confer with the all of the Jane Does.
4. The Pandora’s Box: What’s In It?
The Government ONLY needs to confer. That’s it. It seems simple. But I believe the Government is worried that if they reopen their case in an attempt to confer with the Jane Does, the Does will amend their Federal Complaint to seek to expand the definition of conference.
In my opinion, I believe that what is going on here is that the Government is worried that they will be ordered to turn over ALL conferences with ALL parties to the Jane Does, and a Pandora’s Box will result.
What might the Government be so worried about: I have no personal knowledge about this case. But history tells us that powerful men frequently seek to influence important politicians with money and other sexual favors.
5. Is Someone Being Blackmailed Here?
In addition, Blackmail IS a tool which is sometimes used against politicians. Has this happened? There are many examples to consider as analogies here, where the public revelation of sex scandals doomed political careers. Blackmail can be based upon factual evidence and truth. Blackmail can also be based upon trumped-up stuff, lies which could destroy someone’s career and reputation if revealed despite it being false because the stigma is so strong. For instance:
After a news story ran in the New York Times that Elliot Spitzer, had paid over $80,000 for the services of prostitutes during his tenure as attorney general and then governor of the State of New York, Spitzer was figuratively tarred and feathered and resigned as Governor shortly after the Times story was published.
Meanwhile, the question remains – was Spitzer set up? There is a somewhat famous piece in Harper’s Magazine positing the argument that the federal government had initially been investigating a call girl ring and monkeyed with things in order to capture “Client No. 9,” aka Spitzer, in their case. Read, “Spitzer Set Up?” by Scott Horton published in Harper’s on March 13, 2008.
Regardless of a lack of factual support, media stories exploded up in Nebraska back in the 1980s about a credit union (run by Lawrence King) being involved in an alleged child sex ring with a client list that included powerful and high-ranking Washington politicians. The scandal was filled with tabloid fodder, with claims at one point that the sinister sex organization was run by “… a cult of devil worshipers involved in the mutilation, sacrifice and cannibalism of numerous children.”
Watch this video released by Senator John Decamp which exposes what happened regarding the Nebraska scandal involving dozens of foster boys allegedly being pimped out to politicians by banker Lawrence King:
Bottom line, this case is open. Things are happening now, behind the scenes. These are my thoughts for things as we know them today. Eventually, we will all know more — and I’m open to questions and comments about what I’ve opined here as well as future events in the case if you’d like to discuss it.
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