Federal agents in Florida were aware of key allegations of childhood sexual abuse against Jeffrey Epstein over a decade ago, ABC News revealed Thursday.
According to court documents, a woman had come forward with detailed accounts of abuse against Epstein and was set to appear before a grand jury in the original federal investigation against the billionaire hedge fund manager in Florida. But after Epstein secured a favorable deal with prosecutors that resulted in him serving 18 months in county jail, the case was closed and the allegations went unheard — until last year.
Here's the scoop from ABC News:
A woman whose allegations of childhood sex abuse in New York were central to last year's indictment of Jeffrey Epstein was questioned by the FBI and subpoenaed for testimony by federal prosecutors in Florida more than a decade ago in connection with the first federal investigation into Epstein's alleged child sex trafficking, according to court documents and multiple sources familiar with the events.
But the woman, who was 19 at the time of her initial contact with federal agents in 2008, did not appear before a grand jury in West Palm Beach, as the subpoena commanded. Before her testimony could be secured, Epstein cemented a controversial and once-secret non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami by pleading guilty to two state prostitution charges for which he was sentenced to 18 months in a county jail ... with the deal done, the federal grand jury was suspended, the investigation halted, and the subpoena to the woman, ultimately, withdrawn.
The report notes that the woman's account could have helped strengthen the already expansive case against Epstein by "potentially unraveling an alleged network of child sexual abuse at his Manhattan residence," which was similar to what had been uncovered at his Palm Beach estate.
"I certainly think with the FBI's capabilities, even back then, that they could have unraveled the entire network from New York to Paris to New Mexico," said Spencer Kuvin, an attorney who represented three of Epstein's alleged victims during the original investigation in 2008. "The potential was always there. [The government] shut this thing down and pled this thing out before going through and talking to probably more than half of the women that were involved in this whole thing. Had they conducted a full investigation and taken their time, this would've been a whole different story."
The woman's account was finally heard in court during the federal investigation in New York in 2019 and proved to be central to the prosecution's case. She was identified as "Minor-Victim 1" and was the only alleged victim from New York whose allegations are specifically detailed in the indictment.
The ABC News report details that the woman was initially recruited in 2002, when she was only 14 years old, to provide massages to Epstein at his Manhattan residence, and that she went on to suffer escalating sexual abuse over a number of years. The woman was also enlisted to bring other girls to Epstein so that he could engage in sex acts with them.