Andrew Kerr on January 8, 2020
A Florida judge Tuesday blocked a request for grand-jury records from Jeffrey Epstein’s 2006 indictment, saying there’s not a “scintilla” of evidence to suggest corruption led to the financier’s sweetheart plea deal in 2008.
The request came from special prosecutors appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis tasked with investigating “irregularities” surrounding the plea deal Epstein cut with prosecutors in 2008 that led to him serving 13 months in jail for soliciting prosecution. The prosecutors are also investigating the generous work-release privileges granted to Epstein during his sentence that allowed him to spend 12 hours a day, six days a week, at an office building.
“It sounds like a fishing expedition to me,” Judge Krista Marx said of the request for Epstein’s grand jury records. “I’m not understanding how it will be helpful and to what end.”
Prosecutors said they want to review the records to see whether the grand jurors were informed that police had evidence that minor girls were molested at Epstein’s Palm Beach estate, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.
“What we’re looking at here is, was there corruption here?” prosecutors said in regard to the grand jury records. “These were schoolchildren who were drawn into this behavior by this billionaire and they were victimized by him over a long period of time.”
Marx rebuffed prosecutors, saying they would need to submit more than a “bare-bones” request for her to release the grand jury records.
“There has not been a scintilla of evidence to suggest corruption,” the judge added.
Marx didn’t close the door entirely on releasing the records. She pointed to a Florida law that authorizes the release of grand jury records only as a “last resort” and when it is clear that the records will contain evidence of wrongdoing.
Marx’s refusal to release the records came after graphic photos of Epstein’s dead body and jail cell following his apparent suicide aired on CBS News’s “60 Minutes” Sunday evening.
The photos were given to the program by Michael Baden, a pathologist hired by Epstein’s family who has suggested the alleged sex-trafficker could have been murdered.
“The forensic evidence released so far, including the autopsy, point much more to murder and strangulation than the suicide … the suicidal hanging,” Baden said.
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