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‘The Government Badly Mistreated Me’: Alleged Jeffrey Epstein Victim Challenges Non-Prosecution Deal
Courtney Wild has filed a petition with the Supreme Court to weigh in on whether federal prosecutors can reach pre-indictment non-prosecution deals, like the one Jeffrey Epstein secured in 2007, without input from victims.
The legal team for one of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged victims has filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court, challenging secret non-prosecution deals made without victims’ consent.
The petition, obtained by Oxygen.com and filed on behalf of Courtney Wild, asks the U.S. Supreme court to determine whether federal prosecutors have to confer with crime victims before reaching non-prosecution agreements, similar to the one Epstein entered into with federal prosecutors in Florida in 2007.
Epstein had been accused at the time for running a child sex trafficking ring and sexually abusing young, underage girls—allegedly including Wild—at his Palm Beach, Florida mansion and other locations.
During the investigation, he reached a non-prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors that allowed him to plead guilty to two low-level state offenses in exchange for immunity from federal prosecution in Florida, according to the filing.
He’d plead guilty the following year to state charges of soliciting and procuring prostitution, earning him a 13-month sentence that included a lenient work-release program and required him to make payments to his victims, according to Fox News.
Wild’s attorneys, Paul Cassell and Bradley J. Edwards, have argued that these “secret non-prosecution deals” are a violation of the federal Crime Victims Rights Act (CVRA), a comprehensive bill of rights adopted in 2004 to protect federal crime victims.
Among other things, the CRVA ensures that victims have a “reasonable right to confer with the attorney for the Government in the case,” according to the Justice Department, but Wild’s attorneys have argued in the petition that she never received that opportunity.
They said that Epstein “was able to negotiate a secret, pre-indictment non-prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors” before he could ever be publicly indicted for the alleged crimes.
“Even after the agreement was consummated, Government lawyers did not confer with Epstein’s child sex abuse victims about it and misled them about the agreement’s existence,” the filing states.
Cassell and Edwards filed a lawsuit on the behalf of Epstein’s alleged sexual abuse victims arguing that prosecutors had violated the CRVA. The court ruled in favor of the victims, but the case was dismissed by the District Court for the Southern District of Florida after Epstein died in his federal jail cell in 2019, according to a statement from the attorneys obtained by Oxygen.com.
Cassell and Edwards appealed the decision to the Eleventh Circuit Court, which reviewed the case and ruled in an en banc decision that the CRVA does not give victims the right to enforce their rights until after federal charges are formally filed. Since that never happened in Epstein’s case, the court ruled that prosecutors were free to enter the non-prosecution agreement.
Wild’s attorneys are now asking the Supreme Court to weigh in on the matter to determine whether victims have the right to confer with prosecutors “before the Government files a federal indictment,” according to the petition.
They argue that if the Eleventh Circuit Court’s interpretation of the CVRA is allowed to stand, that “federal prosecutors will be free to secretly negotiate pre-charge non-prosecution agreements disposing of federal charges, all the while keeping victims in the dark.”
They also questioned the overall practice of using the “clandestine” non-prosecution agreements within the legal system.
“The mere existence of secret non-prosecution deals—such as the one orchestrated by Epstein’s high-powered legal team—calls into doubt the fairness of the federal criminal justice system,” they wrote, adding that the agreements cannot be scrutinized by the public.
Wild is hoping the Supreme Court will intervene to shut down the secretive practice.
“The government badly mistreated me and many others,” she said in the statement. “I’m counting on our United States Supreme Court to take my case and give me my day in court.”
The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the petition to review the issue later this fall.
The latest legal maneuver was a part of “Cassell’s and his co-counsel’s ongoing efforts to have the Epstein non-prosecution deal rescinded, so that Epstein’s co-conspirators can be prosecuted in Florida,” the statement from Wild’s attorneys said.
In a review of the non-prosecution agreement last year by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), officials determined that former Labor Secretary Alex Acosta—who was serving as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida at the time—did not commit “professional misconduct” but did execute “poor judgment” in agreeing to the non-prosecution agreement.
“Although this decision was within the scope of Acosta’s broad discretion and OPR does not find that it resulted from improper factors, the NPA was a flawed mechanism for satisfying the federal interest that caused the government to open its investigation of Epstein,” they wrote at the conclusion of the investigation.