On Monday, an advocacy group for survivors of clergy abuse called on Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta to resign over the plea deal he made with Jeffrey Epstein in 2008 that allowed the billionaire financier to avoid federal prosecution and a possible life sentence.
Acosta was a U.S. attorney at the time of Epstein’s conviction for soliciting underaged girls. He approved the deal with Epstein, allowing him to plead guilty to state prostitution charges and serve roughly a year in prison. The deal also let him spend 16 hours a day outside of prison. Acosta has defended the deal as necessary to ensure Epstein served time.
But now, Acosta is facing growing pressure over the deal since Epstein was charged Monday with sex trafficking.
In a statement Monday, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) noted that a federal judge previously ruled Acosta broke the law when arranging the deal for Epstein.
The statement also lashed out at unnamed defenders of Acosta for citing how long ago the deal was made, comparing the defense to public relations strategies deployed by the Catholic church in the wake of clergy abuse allegations.
“As head of the Labor Department, Secretary Acosta plays a critical role in the monitoring of crimes like sex trafficking. We simply cannot believe that he can be effective in that role with a cloud – and history – like this over his head.”
The statement is in line with FBI officials in urging anyone with potential knowledge of crimes by Epstein to contact prosecutors in the Southern District of New York.
“We urge every single person – whether in Florida, New York, or elsewhere – who has knowledge or suspicions about Epstein’s behavior to contact New York prosecutors today,” the statement reads. “All information is helpful, no matter how old or seemingly insignificant it may be.”