[QUOTE]At the press conference announcing the indictment of Jeffrey Epstein, a reporter asked U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman if new evidence played any role. Berman gave a hat tip to investigative journalists who followed the case after Epstein was handed a sweetheart plea deal when he was prosecuted for sex crimes more than a decade ago.

“We were assisted from some excellent investigative journalism,” Berman said.

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, who was involved in Epstein’s plea deal as a federal prosecutor, referenced “new evidence” in a Twitter message the following day.

“The crimes committed by Epstein are horrific, and I am pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence,” Acosta wrote. “Now that new evidence and additional testimony is available, the NY prosecution offers an important opportunity to more fully bring him to justice.”

Perhaps in an effort to control the damage, Acosta conducted a press conference, at which he repeated his claim that “they’ve brought these charges on new evidence.”

“New evidence.” An “assist” from journalists. Don’t believe it.

The New York prosecutors didn’t take action after reading a newspaper article about a game-changing piece of evidence. Compare the 2007 non-prosecution agreement with the new indictment. Both address sex trafficking of children. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has been sitting on mountains of evidence confirming Epstein’s abuse of young girls for more than 10 years.

The “assist” was instead a wave of public outrage upon the discovery of how the Justice Department and Florida prosecutors protected a child sex offender with a lenient plea deal, hid the details from the victims and the public, and failed to prosecute the women who helped Epstein find, groom, and exploit children.

What did the Justice Department have on Epstein? The answers can be found in a 2008 lawsuit in which two of Epstein’s alleged victims in Doe v. U.S. sued the United States for violating their rights under the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act. In particular, they claimed the government violated their right to confer during the negotiation of the non-prosecution agreement and failed to inform the victims that Epstein’s state plea would end the federal case. The victims also claimed the government “violated their right to be treated with fairness” by concealing the non-prosecution agreement.

Judge Kenneth Marra sided with the victims on Feb. 21, ruling that the Justice Department violated the victims’ rights under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act. The opinion (pdf) set forth the DOJ’s conspiracy with Epstein’s lawyers to deceive the victims. Some of those who participated in the plea deal at the local level have offered justifications. As the Miami Herald’s Julie Brown reported:

“Assistant U.S. Attorney [Marie] Villafaña, in court papers, said that prosecutors used their ‘best efforts’ to comply with the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, but exercised their ‘prosecutorial discretion’ when they chose not to notify the victims[\QUOTE]