For more than two years, Julie K. Brown, a journalist for the Miami Herald, has investigated a secret plea deal that helped billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein avoid federal charges related to women’s accusations that he preyed on them as minors.
As The New York Times reports, Brown published a deeply researched series of articles about the plea deal, which was crafted by a current member of President Trump’s cabinet in 2008, when Epstein faced accusations involving girls in South Florida.
Brown also identified some 80 alleged victims in her reporting. She worked on the award-winning series with Emily Michot, a visual journalist at the Herald.
This past Saturday, Epstein was arrested, charged with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy. He is accused of luring dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14, to his Manhattan townhouse as well as to a mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, the Times reports. He also asked some of the girls to recruit other underage girls, according to the indictment. Investigators seized hundreds of nude photos of young women and girls from his Manhattan home.
For years since the secret plea deal, women have accused him of preying on them when they were underage, but he remained protected by the deal.
The U.S. attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey S. Berman, says his office is not bound by the 2008 agreement, according to the Times. “That agreement, by its terms, only binds the Southern District of Florida,” he said.
He also said that his team had been “assisted by some excellent investigative journalism.”
In the wake of the arrest, Brown’s series of articles, collected under the title Perversion of Justice, flew across social media. “This is what happens when a reporter refuses to give up on a story,” the Columbia Journalism Review posted on Twitter.
Brown, who grew up outside of Philadelphia, says she has always been sensitive to injustice, having been bullied as a kid for being one of three children raised by a single parent. However, she tells the Times, “The story is not about me. It’s about the victims.”
Read the full story at The New York Times.