One of Jeffrey Epstein’s victims said she never felt like Alexander Acosta had her best interests at heart when, as a U.S. Attorney in Miami, Acosta made a secret 2008 plea deal with Epstein, a billionaire financier and convicted child sex offender.
“I never felt like the U.S. Attorney was on my side,” survivor Courtney Wild told ABC News of Acosta, who is now U.S. secretary of labor, on Tuesday.
Lawmakers and advocates have called for Acosta’s resignation amid revelations that he gave a secret and unusually lenient deal to Epstein in 2008 on prostitution charges involving underage girls. Acosta and the other prosecutors working on the case broke the law by keeping the plea agreement secret from more than 30 of Epstein’s victims, a judge ruled earlier this year.
Acosta’s sweetheart deal has received renewed attention after Epstein was indicted on multiple child sex trafficking charges on Monday. He has pleaded not guilty.
“I started crying because I just felt overwhelmed with so many emotions,” Wild said of the moment she began listening to Monday’s press conference from Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman.
“When I heard that [press conference], it was ― for once ― they were reaching out and saying, ‘It wasn’t your fault if you were sexually abused by him,’” she added.
Under the terms of Acosta’s sweetheart deal, Epstein had to register as a sex offender but avoided any federal prosecution and a possible life sentence. He served 13 months of his 18-month sentence, spending much of it in his office as part of a work-release program.
Acosta defended the 2008 deal on Twitter this week, but said he is “pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case [against Epstein] based on new evidence.”
Wild told ABC she feels a renewed sense of hope that she can trust the prosecutors this time around.
“I feel like the U.S. Attorneys that [are currently] handling [the Epstein case] today ― they have the intention to do what’s right and to take a predator off the street,” she said.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.