July 9 (UPI) — U.S. Labor Secretary Alex Acosta said Tuesday prosecutors have more evidence against Jeffrey Epstein than he did a decade ago, when he gave the billionaire philanthropist an immunity agreement that averted a potential life sentence and forced him to register as a sex offender.
Epstein was arrested last weekend and pleaded not guilty in New York court Monday to two sex trafficking charges outlined in a federal indictment. Many have since called for Acosta to resign due to the agreement he gave Epstein for an unrelated case in 2008 when he was a Miami prosecutor.
Epstein had faced a life sentence, if convicted, but Acosta’s offer put him in prison for about a year. He also had to register as a sex offender.
“With the evidence available [in 2008], federal prosecutors insisted that Epstein go to jail, register as a sex offender and put the world on notice that he was a sexual predator,” Acosta tweeted Tuesday.
“The crimes committed by Epstein are horrific, and I am pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence.”
The new indictment said Epstein exploited minor girls between 2002 and 2005 and recruited them with false promises and paid them for sex. Girls as young as 14 were sometimes taken to Epstein’s New York and Florida mansions as part of the operation, prosecutors said.
“Now that new evidence and additional testimony is available, the New York prosecution offers an important opportunity to more fully bring him to justice,” Acosta added.
Amid calls for Acosta’s resignation, President Donald Trump has given no indication he plans to remove his labor secretary. He did say Tuesday he will look “closely” at Acosta’s handling of the 2008 plea agreement.
CNBC also reported Tuesday U.S. Attorney General William Barr will not recuse himself from the case, but will remove himself from a Justice Department inquiry into Acosta’s involvement in the 2008 case, when Epstein was represented by a law firm Barr later worked for.
Prosecutors say Epstein faces 45 years in prison on the new charges. He will remain jailed until his next hearing July 15.