House passes bill to ease release of Jeffrey Epstein grand jury evidence
Donald Trump spent more time with Jeffrey Epstein than first thought. Image via AP.

‘We need to know why (and) if justice was served or perverted.’

Evidence revealing how hedge fund billionaire Jeffrey Epstein avoided appropriate punishment and continued operating an underage sex-trafficking ring for more than a decade after his first arrest could soon come to light under legislation now one vote from passage.

House lawmakers unanimously approved a bill (HB 117) to ease the opening of records from 2006, when then-Palm Beach State Attorney Barry Krischer declined to charge Epstein and instead referred his case to a grand jury.

Krischer’s decision ensured that testimony in the case would be kept from the public. And it’s remained so ever since, despite repeated attempts to unseal the case’s records and provide answers to victims, their families and the community.

HB 117, which came at the urging of Palm Beach Clerk Joe Abruzzo, is tailored specifically to apply to Epstein. Along with its twin companion (SB 234), scheduled for a Senate floor vote next week, the measure would provide the court with a clear path to release records on the 2006 case while retaining full discretion over what is made public.

“The public and the victims have a right to know if the prosecutors steered the jury away from indicting Epstein on serious charges, why they interviewed only one of many victims, released him on time served to expand his predatory behavior worldwide, and if the system worked or failed,” said Highland Beach Republican Rep. Peggy Gossett-Seidman, the bill’s sponsor, before the vote Thursday.

The bill, if passed, would amend Florida Statutes, Section 905.27 by expanding a “furthering of justice” exception to grand jury secrecy to include “furthering a public interest.”

But it comes with several conditions that Epstein’s case uniquely meets:

— The subject of the grand jury inquiry must be dead.

— The inquiry must have involved crimes or sexual activity between the subject and a person who was a minor at the time.

— The testimony must have been previously disclosed under a court order.

— The State Attorney must be notified.

The measure provides that a court may still limit the disclosure of grand jury records, including redacting documents and testimony, and prohibits those materials from being released before the grand jury receives them.

Palm Beach County police began investigating Epstein in 2005 for sexually abusing minors, including girls attending Lake Worth Middle School and Royal Palm High School. In 2006, police asked Krischer to indict him on four felony charges, including unlawful sexual activity with a minor and lewd and lascivious molestation.

Krischer instead referred the case to a grand jury, which determined there was only sufficient evidence to charge Epstein with procuring a child for prostitution and soliciting a prostitute, offenses to which he pleaded guilty in 2008 and served just 13 months in a private prison wing.

Just one of nearly two dozen women and young girls who said they were abused at Epstein’s mansion in Palm Beach testified before the grand jury. Oddly, Assistant State Attorney Lanna Belohlavek undermined that witness, quizzing the 14-year-old girl about “suggestive” posts she made on her Myspace page to which Epstein’s lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, provided Krischer’s office links.

Alex Acosta, then the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, eventually took over the case from Krischer, but he declined to pursue federal charges. Former President Donald Trump, who employed Dershowitz as a lawyer, later appointed Acosta as U.S. Labor Secretary. Acosta resigned in July 2019 amid renewed scrutiny over the Epstein case.

In 2021, the Palm Beach Post sued the State Attorney and Clerk’s offices to obtain a court-ordered release of the grand jury testimony. But Judge Donald Hafele ruled against the Post and denied the testimony’s release.

The Post appealed, and a court reversed the 2006 decision last May, ordering Circuit Judge Luis Delgado to review the testimony transcripts and decide if releasing them would further justice.

Epstein was again arrested on July 6, 2019, and indicted by a grand jury for “dozens” of underage girls brought to his mansion for sexual encounters.

Epstein died of an apparent suicide in his jail cell while awaiting trial. The suspicious circumstances around Epstein’s death led to federal investigations of broken cameras outside his cell and since-dropped indictments of correctional officers assigned to guard him on the night of his death.

“Last year, two (of Epstein’s) victims committed suicide. Many other victims are suffering in my county and around the world,” Gossett-Seidman said. “Epstein could have been stopped right here in Florida. Instead, he was released to dehumanize girls for another 13 years. We need to know why (and) if justice was served or perverted.”

HB 117 received one “no” vote on its way to the House floor from Shalimar Republican Rep. Patt Maney, a retired Okaloosa County judge, who opposed the measure during a House Judiciary Committee meeting on Feb. 7. He did not debate the bill that day, nor did he offer a reason why he voted against it.

Florida Politics requested an explanation from Maney, who switched to a “yes” vote on the bill Thursday during the House floor session, but did not receive a response by press time Friday.

Gossett-Seidman and Boca Raton Democratic Sen. Tina Polsky, the sponsor of SB 234, carried nearly identical bills last year. Both measures died after clearing only one of three committees to which they were referred.

Twelve of Epstein’s accusers sued the Federal Bureau of Investigation this week, alleging the agency failed to protect them.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • Earl Pitts "Sage Political Expert Emeritas" American

    February 16, 2024 at 5:50 pm

    Good evening Bob Iger,
    You are free to “Relax Your Sphincter” because I, Earl Pitts American, have determined that as long as you remain CEO of Di$ney we will shield you from the release of the evidence of all the little 8oys you molested with €pstein. Just be aware when you are no longer CEO it will be released. So plan the remainder of your time here with that in mind.
    Thanks Bob,
    Earl Pitts American

  • Rando Atty

    February 17, 2024 at 9:41 am

    Good morning Mr. Pitts,
    I may or may not represent a client interested in walking away from sins of the past. And I may not, but if I do ask or dont ask the question of just what would a lifetime family pass to all D propertys inclusive of lodgeing, food, beverdage, all entry and ride fees waived, whatever you want in the gift shops, ect… get such a client which I may or may not represent who may or may not have interest in redacting a few names off that list which may or may not be related to this artcle.
    Thank you I may or may not be Robbi Eisenhouer, Esquire. Or I may or may not be just some random attorney

  • Earl Pitts "Sage Political Expert Emeritas" American

    February 17, 2024 at 9:56 am

    Good mornting America,
    The above post is most likely a Trickey Trick posted by some Dook 4 Brains Lefty trying to see if I, Earl Pitts American, have Sage Honesty and Integerity.
    HEII TO THE NO, I, Earl Pitts American, a man of Sage Honesty and Sage Integrity, can not and Will Not take a bribe NOT NOW NOT EVER.
    Thank you America,
    Earl Pitts “The Honest” American

Comments are closed.


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