Florida Legislature Passes Bill Releasing Transcripts of Jeffrey Epstein Grand Jury Investigation

Florida Legislature Passes Bill Releasing Transcripts of Jeffrey Epstein Grand Jury Investigation

The Florida Legislature has unanimously passed a bill that would make the transcripts of a 2006 grand jury investigation into Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual assaults of underage girls available to the public. The bill, which has now been sent to Governor Ron DeSantis for signing, is expected to take effect on July 1. However, a South Florida circuit judge may release the transcripts earlier as part of a lawsuit filed by the Palm Beach Post.

The Palm Beach Post had sued the Palm Beach County state attorney and the court clerk in 2019, seeking a court order to unseal the grand jury proceedings and shed light on why the grand jury returned only minimal charges. In 2021, a circuit judge ruled that the court lacked the authority to release the records under state law. However, a state appeals court disagreed last year, citing a provision that allows grand jury records to be made public if it serves the “furtherance of justice.” The appeals court ordered the lower court to review, redact, and release the material, but this has yet to occur.

The newly passed bill specifies that records can be released if the subject of the grand jury inquiry is deceased or if the investigation involves sexual activity with a minor. Palm Beach County Court Clerk Joseph Abruzzo, who holds the records, has not opposed the appeals court ruling and has expressed a desire to release the records in the interest of transparency.

Jeffrey Epstein, a financier, was 66 years old when he died by suicide in a New York City federal jail cell in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. Federal prosecutors had accused him of paying underage girls for massages at his residences in Florida and New York, where he would then sexually assault them.

Florida’s handling of the Epstein case came under scrutiny in 2018 following investigative reports by the Miami Herald. These reports revealed disagreements among law enforcement officials after teenage girls and young women disclosed to Palm Beach police investigators that Epstein had sexually assaulted them. The evidence was taken to federal prosecutors, who threatened charges until a plea agreement was reached in 2008. Epstein pleaded guilty to state charges and served a sentence of 18 months in the Palm Beach County jail system, followed by 12 months of house arrest. He was also required to register as a sex offender.

During his time in custody, Epstein was allowed to stay in an isolated cell at the county’s minimum-security stockade, where he had freedom of movement and access to television. He was later admitted to the county’s work-release program, spending most of his time at his office. Two women have come forward, stating that they were trafficked to Epstein’s office during this period for paid sexual encounters.

Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s former girlfriend, was convicted in 2021 of luring girls to his homes to be molested and is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence.

Author: CrimeDoor

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