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Are survivors of Jeffrey Epstein's sex trafficking ring going to see justice? Delve into how the U.S. government unfairly handled their case until now.

Jeffrey Epstein island: One of his survivors has a case being reopened

After long legal battles, some of Jeffrey Epstein’s victims may see some justice at last. Through the years, Jeffrey Epstein’s victims have gone to local & state police, even to the FBI, only to see their cases dismissed or shelved. Worse, some authorities revictimized the survivors of Epstein’s sex ring, referring to them as prostitutes. 

“We weren’t prostitutes, we weren’t whores,” survivor Jena Lisa Jones, who was victimized by Epstein when she was sixteen said. “We were children.” 

Finally, after challenging the ridiculously lenient plea deal & non-prosecution agreement that Jeffrey Epstein received in 2008, victims are having their day in court. In a stunning reversal spearheaded by Epstein survivor Courtney Wild, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to re-hear whether Epstein’s plea deal was lawful. 

Who is Courtney Wild? 

Courtney Wild was only fourteen when Jeffrey Epstein recruited her into his sex trafficking ring. Wild was living in Florida and became involved when she heard that some girls in her school were making money being a masseuse to a “rich, old man” in Palm Beach, Florida. 

As Courtney Wild became indoctrinated by Jeffrey Epstein, she began recruiting girls to work for him. As Wild moved up the ladder in Epstein’s circle, she was brought to Little St. James. Also called “paedo island” and “orgy island,” Epstein’s island is where the most horrific abuses happened

Courtney Wild’s experience on Jeffrey Epstein’s island made her realize what Epstein was doing to her & other girls were wrong. Then, she became one of the forerunning survivors of Jeffrey Epstein, advocating for victims’ rights. 

The Victims’ Rights Act of 2004

The Victims; Rights Act is a 2004 federal law that gives the victims of federal crimes more transparency and justice. It gives victims access to “timely, reasonable and accurate notice” of any hearings regarding the crimes committed against them

In 2007, Jeffrey Epstein was arrested and charged with multiple counts of sex trafficking. However, he struck a plea deal with U.S. attorney Alex Acosta that drastically reduced his charges and sentencing. The victims like Courtney Wild weren’t notified of the plea deal before it was made. 

How Epstein’s plea deal let him keep abusing girls

Jeffrey Epstein’s plea deal gave him a ridiculously lenient sentence. He was allowed to return to his home while serving jail time for a “work release.” The plea deal also allowed him to keep bringing girls to Little St. James to abuse. Since he was only prosecuted in Florida, and he served his time, Jeffrey Epstein’s comings and goings to his island weren’t tracked. 

Jeffrey Epstein kept smuggling girls to his island after his 2008 conviction. According to eyewitness accounts, Epstein made his victims don flight attendant uniforms to look more official. However, many locals knew he kept taking underage girls to his island to abuse. 

Challenging the plea deal

Courtney Wild took the government to court, claiming that Jeffrey Epstein’s secret plea deal violated her rights under the Victims’ Rights act. However, the nature of the plea deal created a loophole. 

The plea deal between Jeffrey Epstein and U.S. prosecutors was a non-prosecution agreement where Epstein would plea to a state charge, not a federal one. Therefore, his charges didn’t apply to the federal statue. Because of this, in April, in a 2-1 decision, a federal appeals court claimed their hands were tied and refused to look at the case. 

Reversing the appeal

However, last week, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals made a rare decision to strike down the April ruling and reopen the case against the U.S. government. 

The decision could be made because of a rule in appeals procedure stating that if enough judges found fault in the original ruling, they could vote to re-hear it in what’s called an en banc hearing. Of the nine circuit judges that stepped up to re-hear the case, at least 5 had to vote yes. 

Coming to terms with being sexually abused

For Courtney Wild, the hardest part of the abuse against her was coming to terms with what happened. Admitting to herself that she was a child victim of Jeffrey Epstein was the first step in a long road to recovery & advocacy

As far as the en banc ruling, Courtney Wild is optimistic, claiming she knew this day would come. “We have fought for 12 years, and as I’ve said before, no matter how many obstacles pile up, we will never give up fighting for what is right,” she told reporters. 

Her attorneys are also looking forward to the upcoming hearing. They are enjoying the prospect of arguing that Epstein’s plea deal violated the victims’ rights under federal law and should be rescinded. 

What if they win the hearing? 

Jeffrey Epstein’s plea deal included immunity for at least four people. We’re not sure which people Epstein chose to protect. However, we know Ghislaine Maxwell’s name isn’t among the co-conspirators. We also don’t know whether they were involved in the abuse that happened on Jeffrey Epstein’s island, only a short flight away from Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion. 

Nonetheless, Jeffrey Epstein’s former girlfriend, currently awaiting trial for her participation in Epstein’s sex trafficking ring, may lose some immunity if the deal is rescinded. While she’s not named, rescinding Jeffrey Epstein’s plea deal may open up new evidence to be used against her at her trial in 2021. 

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