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Jeffrey Epstein prosecutor was previously rebuked for handling of a child sex case

Julie K. Brown, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

"It is highly unusual for a court to allege an assistant U.S. attorney has intentionally withheld information. That allegation is like dropping a bomb in the legal community," she said.

"It seems to show that they are not taking these cases very seriously, they are not advocating for strong punishment for sexual predators, and not advocating for victims in a meaningful way."

Villafana, a well-regarded 18-year veteran federal prosecutor, would not comment for this story. But her lawyer, Jonathan Biran, said she has worked tirelessly on behalf of crime victims. She received the 2011 National Crime Victims' Rights Service Award as well as the Attorney General's Project Safe Childhood Award.

He also pointed out that the parents of the victim in the Texas man's case wrote a letter thanking Villafana at the conclusion of the case.

"AUSA Villafana has spent her 18-year career advocating tirelessly on behalf of victims of some of the most serious crimes in Florida, and has received numerous awards for her successful prosecution of major cases," Biran said, adding that Villafana has "made South Florida a safer place for children and adults alike."

By all accounts, Adam McDaniel was an awkward and shy Texas teenager who spent countless hours on his computer, socializing with girls on the internet.

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In 2005, McDaniel, then 19, traveled from Texas to Fort Lauderdale, where he hopped into a taxi and headed to Boca Raton to meet up with a 14-year-old girl he had been talking to online for about a year. He picked up the ninth-grader at a high school basketball game, and drove her to a Marriott hotel, where they spent the night, court records show.

When she failed to come home that evening, her parents called Boca Raton police. Officers tracked the pair down at the hotel the next day, where they found them in bed, clad in little more than their underwear, according to court records.

McDaniel was arrested on federal sex charges, and pleaded guilty on Oct. 6, 2006, to enticing a minor into sexual conduct by means of interstate commerce, which carried a sentence of from five years up to 30 years in federal prison.

At sentencing, McDaniel's public defender, Patrick Hunt, argued for a reduced sentence, blaming his client's immaturity for the crime. McDaniel had been a good student at Texas Tech and had a family that supported him, Hunt told Zloch.

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