Gov. DeSantis signs off on releasing Jeffrey Epstein records

RON DESANTIS BILL SIGNING (8)
The Governor vowed to sign the legislation, and he kept his promise Thursday.

Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Palm Beach County to sign off on transparency over some of the misdeeds of Jeffrey Epstein and a “sweetheart deal” the billionaire sex trafficker got nearly two decades ago in Florida.

“They say that justice delayed is justice denied, and this whole situation proves that true,” DeSantis said.

HB 117 will ease the unsealing of records from 2006, when former Palm Beach State Attorney Barry Krischer referred Epstein’s case to a grand jury rather than pursuing charges himself.

The Governor said there “needs to be a mechanism in some of these rare circumstances where we can get the truth and people can get justice.”

After the Legislature passed the bill, DeSantis promised to sign it, saying “files related to Jeffrey Epstein’s criminal activity should be made public.”

Ahead of the bill signing, victims of Epstein’s depredations spoke of what happened and their frustrations in getting legal recourse.

The legislation amends Florida Statutes, Section 905.27 by expanding a “furthering of justice” exception to grand jury secrecy to include “furthering a public interest.”

“This would greenlight the disclosure of the materials regarding the Epstein case,” DeSantis said, along with a “relatively small number of cases.”

The law comes with several conditions that Epstein’s case uniquely meets, as DeSantis noted, including that the subject of the grand jury inquiry must be dead, the inquiry must have involved crimes or sexual activity with a minor, and that the testimony must have been previously disclosed under a court order.

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. Police asked Krischer to charge Epstein with four felonies, including unlawful sexual activity with a minor and lewd and lascivious molestation, the following year.

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.

The Governor suggested even while on the presidential campaign trail that more information needs to come out from the federal government about Epstein, who died in prison under a cloud of sex trafficking charges in 2021. He said neither Donald Trump or Joe Biden “are willing to do that.”

DeSantis was never close to Epstein, but the financier’s issues have intersected with the state and its officials to such a degree that the Governor, in his first term, ordered an investigation of Palm Beach County officials in the wake of Epstein’s 2019 death in a jail cell to ensure that the criminal did not get “special treatment.”

Notably, DeSantis this summer reappointed a lawyer who negotiated a “sweetheart” plea deal for the Palm Beach billionaire sex offender 15 years ago to one of several commissions responsible for nominating Judges in Florida.

DeSantis again named Miami Beach lawyer Lilly Ann Sanchez, a shareholder at LS Law Firm, to the Judicial Nominating Commission of the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami-Dade County. He first appointed her to the group July 2, 2019.

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Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics contributed to this report.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


2 comments

  • Nope

    February 29, 2024 at 12:00 pm

    Dear Mr. and Mrs. Governor DeSantis,

    Please apply these principles to yourselves: the standard of transparency and releasing of records according to Sunshine laws enshrined in the Florida Constitution. Because transparency delayed is transparency denied.

    Signed, Florida citizens and taxpayers

  • MH/Duuuval

    February 29, 2024 at 9:39 pm

    “Notably, DeSantis this summer reappointed a lawyer who negotiated a “sweetheart” plea deal for the Palm Beach billionaire sex offender 15 years ago to one of several commissions responsible for nominating Judges in Florida.”

    And the mob-style accommodations Epstein got while doing time?

Comments are closed.


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