This article originally appeared on VICE US.
Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers were just dealt another setback – this time from the federal government.
Epstein’s alleged victims had hoped to win compensation from the federal government, arguing their rights were violated by a cushy plea agreement in 2007 that allowed the convicted pedophile to avoid serious consequences for allegations of child sex trafficking.
But U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra ruled Monday that since Epstein died by suicide in a Manhattan jail cell in August, he can’t rescind the plea deal Epstein made with federal prosecutors in 2007, as his victims had hoped.
Additionally, Marra said that the women involved in the lawsuit cannot receive damages through the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA), the law their argument relied upon. They will also not be granted access to the FBI files relating to the case, which they had requested.
“Despite Petitioners having demonstrated the Government violated their rights under the CVRA, in the end they are not receiving much, if any, of the relief they sought,” Marra said in his decision Monday, according to the Palm Beach Post.
The most recent investigation into Epstein’s alleged crimes also ended after his suicide.
In July, attorneys with the Southern District of New York accused Epstein of abusing and trafficking dozens of young girls between his Palm Beach and Manhattan mansions from at least 2002 to 2005. He was arrested for those allegations while stepping off his private jet in New Jersey, and was set to face trial some time in 2020.
However, he had faced similar allegations more than a decade ago, when he was first subjected to a police investigation in Florida. Ultimately, that investigation led to a cushy, 2007 plea agreement that granted Epstein and his friends immunity from his alleged crimes, while also sentencing the wealthy financier in 2008 to a little more than a year in jail on state prostitution charges.
Epstein left his Palm Beach jail cell six days a week so he could work from his office, where he also allegedly continued to abuse women. Once he got out of jail, his lavish life returned despite him being made to register as a sex offender — and the abuse allegations continued.
The survivors of Epstein’s abuse, who sued over the agreement in 2008, say they were never made aware of the terms of the plea deal. They alleged in the lawsuit that their rights under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act were violated and that they had been treated unfairly throughout the course of the first investigation.
Marra ruled in the victims’ favor in February, saying that federal prosecutors had indeed violated their rights. He didn’t offer any remedy, but said victims could argue for one if they wished.
U.S. Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, who was the U.S. attorney to sign off on Epstein’s plea deal, resigned from his post in July over outrage regarding the decade-old plea deal and Epstein’s subsequent arrest.
Marra said Monday that victims could take “solace” in “the fact that this litigation has brought national attention to the Crime Victims’ Rights Act.”
Cover: A pedestrian stop to take a photo of Jeffrey Epstein's townhouse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)