A former top assistant to the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Florida is denying any wrongdoing regarding a plea deal for billionaire and accused child-predator Jeffrey Epstein.
Jeffrey Sloman, now in private practice, was the top deputy to Alex Acosta, the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Florida in 2007, when the attorney’s office secured the controversial 2007 plea deal with Epstein.
Sloman was appointed to Acosta’s U.S. attorney seat by President Barack Obama in 2009. Acosta is currently the U.S. Secretary of Labor.
In a Feb. 15 op-ed published in the Miami Herald, Sloman asserted that Acosta “acted with professionalism and integrity in handling the Jeffrey Epstein case,” and that allegations that Acosta was somehow corrupted by Epstein’s dream team of lawyers are untrue.
After more than a decade, the Epstein case has reemerged as a subject of national intrigue as well as outrage.
Epstein, a 66-year-old former hedge fund manager, has been accused of operating an international child sex ring at his Palm Beach, Florida, mansion and 72-acre private island estate in the Caribbean.
According to reports, he allegedly used human-trafficking recruiters to coerce more than 100 underage girls—many of them as young as 14 years old—into performing sex acts with him and many of his guests.
The girls were alleged to have often been transported from the United States to his island estate on his private jet, dubbed the “Lolita Express” in the media.
On Feb. 6, at the behest of Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) opened an investigation into possible professional misconduct that allowed Epstein to serve only 13 months in a private area of the Palm Beach County jail and leave the facility for 12 hours a day, six days a week, to work unsupervised at his downtown West Palm Beach office.
“Jeffrey Epstein is a child rapist and there’s not a single mom or dad in America who shouldn’t be horrified by the fact that he received a pathetically soft sentence,” Sasse said in a statement following the DOJ announcement.
Sloman’s op-ed offers a defense of the Epstein plea arrangement and marks the first public response by members of the prosecutorial team whose efforts are now under federal investigation.
“In the late 2000s, I worked as Alex’s second-in-command,” Sloman acknowledged before pointing to local state-level prosecutors.
“The Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office, was going to allow [Epstein] to plead guilty to a misdemeanor and merely pay a fine. The local police rightly were outraged and brought the facts to us,” said Sloman.
“After reviewing the case, we were appalled. Stunningly, the local prosecutors’ resolution had not even acknowledged that Epstein engaged in abhorrent sex acts with scores of children,” he continued.
Sloman then explained that federal prosecutors ran into significant difficulties when many of Epstein’s victims were too terrified to cooperate against him. He also claimed that Acosta’s hands were legally tied due to “what was, at heart, a local sex abuse case.”
Keeping to the twin objectives of protecting Epstein’s underage victims from further trauma and ensuring a collective path to civil court compensation, Sloman said he and his colleagues proposed a plea offer requiring Epstein to the following: plead guilty to a state-level felony, agree to 18 months in jail, register as a sex offender, and pay his known victims between $150,000 and $250,000.
“We told Epstein that unless he and the local authorities accepted our demands, we would indict and try him on federal charges. They agreed, and we did not pursue a federal case,” Sloman said. His op-ed also serves as a rebuttal to the Miami Herald’s exhaustive three-part investigative series, “Perversion of Justice.”
The series, published Nov. 28, opens with a speculative salvo against Acosta, and was quoted at length by Sen. Sasse in a Jan. 15 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in which Sasse pressed newly confirmed U.S. Attorney General William Barr to investigate the plea deal, which the newspaper called “the deal of a lifetime.”
“If I’m confirmed, I’ll make sure your questions are answered,” said Barr.
Facing life in prison if convicted on human trafficking charges, Epstein assembled an elite team of lawyers, including Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, who worked on the O.J. Simpson murder trial, Jay Lefkowitz, Gerald Lefcourt, Jack Goldberger, Roy Black, Guy Lewis, and former special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, who investigated Bill Clinton’s infamous affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
In addition to Epstein’s light jail sentence, the final plea agreement allowed him to maintain that he was unaware that any of the girls he molested were under 18.
Sloman steadfastly denied kowtowing to Epstein’s “high-priced defense lawyers,” and rejected the idea that they intimidated Acosta’s U.S. attorney’s office, despite insinuations made by the Herald.
“Now, with the Herald’s series serving as kindling, an outstanding public servant [Acosta] is at risk of becoming collateral damage in Washington’s latest polarized conflagration. I won’t let that happen without first being heard,” Sloman concluded.