Palm Beach County prosecutors and sheriff's officials have reportedly been cleared of any wrongdoing by Florida detectives in connection with their handling of Jeffrey Epstein.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement reported that no evidence was found that Epstein was given any special treatment due to bribery or influence from members of the Palm Beach County sheriff's office or the state attorney's office between 2005 and 2009, according to Politico.
State investigators determined that both agencies adhered to laws and rules in place at the time. In three separate reports from March, investigators said they had not discovered any evidence that any sheriff’s deputy, former State Attorney Barry Krischer or any of his prosecutors "was coerced, bribed or engaged in any criminal activity in the performance of their duties."
The state attorney’s office and the sheriff's office had been heavily criticized for the plea and sentencing deal Epstein received as well as for his work-release program, which permitted him to work in his office on most days for up to 16 hours.
Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said in a statement on Monday, May 10, that he welcomed the findings of the investigation.
The treatment Epstein was given was scrutinized in 2018 when the Miami Herald released a series of articles reporting on the disagreements that surfaced in 2005 among law enforcement officials after several teenage girls and young women made allegations of sexual assault against Epstein to Palm Beach police investigators. The girls reportedly agreed to massage Epstein while nude or semi-nude in exchange for money but said he would grope them without consent.
The Miami Herald had reported that Epstein was given unprecedented federal immunity and a short jail sentence in 2008.
Palm Beach police believed that they had a strong enough case to bring sexual assault charges against Epstein, but Krischer and his prosecutors reportedly disagreed and said that Epstein's attorneys would be able to attack the victims' credibly and that a conviction was not likely. An indictment was not issued after a grand jury heard the case.
Palm Beach police took the evidence to federal prosecutors who reportedly threatened to bring charges until an agreement was made in June 2008, according to Politico. Epstein pleaded guilty to state charges of procuring a person under 18 for prostitution and felony solicitation of prostitution and was sentenced to 18 months in the Palm Beach County jail systems. After this, Epstein had to register as a sex offender.
Epstein stayed in an isolated cell in a minimum-security stockade; state investigators said that the decision to isolate Epstein was made to keep him from using his wealth to become "king of the dorms" and to protect him from other inmates.
While on work-release, Epstein wore an ankle monitor, and two deputies were hired to oversee his whereabouts from the lobby but were reportedly not in his office. A 17-year-old girl and an adult woman then claimed that they were trafficked to Epstein's office and paid to have sex with Epstein. Both declined to meet with Florida investigators, but their attorney reportedly texted an investigator that there was no wrongdoing by deputies, per Politico.
In 2019, Epstein was indicted on new sex trafficking charges. The investigation was ordered by Governor Ron DeSantis in August 2019, only days before Epstein died in a New York City federal jail.