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Judge sets rapid pace to end fight over Jeffrey Epstein 'sweetheart' deal

Jane Musgrave, The Palm Beach Post on

Published in News & Features

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- By August, a federal judge should have the information he needs to decide whether to throw out a controversial agreement that allowed billionaire Jeffrey Epstein to escape federal prosecution for having sex with teens at his Palm Beach mansion.

In an order on Monday, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra set a brisk schedule for prosecutors and the young women's attorneys to follow to help him unravel an unprecedented legal mess that was created in 2007 when the deal was inked.

Marra in February ruled that federal prosecutors violated the women's rights by not conferring with them before deciding to shelve a 52-page federal indictment accusing Epstein, 66, of having sex with minors. However, while finding that prosecutors violated the federal Crime Victims Rights Act, Marra didn't fashion a remedy.

Attorneys representing two of the politically connected money manager's more than three dozen victims have long said they want the nonprosecution agreement to be thrown out.

Marra gave them 30 days to file court papers explaining how that could be done and suggesting other ways to compensate the women.

Federal prosecutors will have 30 days to refute or support the request from the victims' lawyers. Then, the women's attorneys will have another 15 days to respond to the prosecutors' arguments, Marra said.

 

Epstein's high-powered lawyers, including Miami attorney Roy Black and New York attorney Jay Lefkowitz, will also get a chance to weigh in before the end of July when all of the legal briefs are due.

Marra's timetable gives federal prosecutors far less time than they wanted.

In court papers filed Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jill Steinberg and Nathan Kitchens said they needed two months to talk to the more than 30 women who claim Epstein paid them for sex when some were as young as 14. After talking to the women, they said they wanted another roughly five months to decide how to redress the wrongs.

Marra said the prosecutors are free to meet with Epstein's victims or their attorneys in the 60 days they have before they file their final papers. But, he didn't make it mandatory.

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