Earlier today The Associated Press reported that a settlement had been reached in ONE OF THE lawsuits in south Florida involving Jeffrey Epstein. The headline and the wording of the tweets breaking the news were bad:
A last-minute settlement has been reached in Florida in a long-running lawsuit involving Jeffrey Epstein, a politically-connected financier accused of sexually abusing dozens of teenage girls.https://t.co/imny7anAKt
— The Associated Press (@AP) December 4, 2018
Here’s what’s in the actual AP reporting (emphasis mine):
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A last-minute settlement was reached Tuesday in a long-running Florida lawsuit involving a politically connected financier accused of sexually abusing dozens of teenage girls, clearing the way for the victims’ lawyers to try to unravel a once-secret agreement that prevented federal criminal prosecution of the financier.
The non-prosecution agreement protecting Jeffrey Epstein was negotiated a decade ago by prosecutors in the South Florida U.S. attorney’s office, which was then run by current Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta. It is the subject of a separate federal lawsuit in Florida filed by victims who say the deal trampled their rights to be heard.
“That injustice needs to be addressed and will be addressed,” said attorney Jack Scarola, who represents fellow lawyer Bradley Edwards in the lawsuit settled Tuesday. “There is no justification for the broad scope of immunity that was granted.”
Epstein, 65, pleaded guilty in 2008 to two state charges after reaching the non-prosecution deal with Acosta’s office while under investigation for sexually abusing dozens of teenage girls. He served 13 months in jail, was required to reach financial settlements with many of the victims and registered as a convicted sex offender.
But Epstein could have faced a possible life sentence if federal prosecutors had pursued a draft 57-page indictment that was never filed. Now, Scarola and Edwards say that possibility still exists, and the victims — some of whom were only 13 or 14 when they were molested — may yet get their day in federal court amid a national #metoo movement that seeks to hold sexual harassers and abusers to account.
“They’re willing to talk. They want to share their stories,” Edwards said.
None of the victims was in court Tuesday and it wasn’t clear if any would be available immediately for interviews.
The settlement reached Tuesday involved a lawsuit Epstein filed against Edwards almost a decade ago. Edwards filed a counterclaim, contending that Epstein sued him maliciously, trying to harm Edwards’ reputation and derail his work with Epstein’s own abuse victims.
The final paragraph is where they buried the lede, as the saying goes. The lawsuit settled this morning IS NOT the Federal lawsuit seeking to set aside the Federal non-prosecution agreement that current Labor Secretary Alex Acosta negotiated and agreed to when he was a US Attorney in south Florida in 2008. The lawsuit settled this morning was between Epstein and one of the attorneys representing Epstein’s victims. It is important to highlight all this, because, as usual, everyone read the tweets and the headline and started jumping to the wrong conclusions on social media. Including people that are normally very good at not doing these things. For instance, the normally reliable Dr. Kendzior:
Once again, none of Epstein's victims will be able to testify, and information about this horrifying and important case will be withheld from the public. https://t.co/vQcDe8cv7y
— Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) December 4, 2018
I’m not trying to knock Dr. Kendzior here, she’s just the most well known of the people I’ve seen so far who bit on the AP’s inaccurate headline and tweets. Everyone is busy, everyone is overwhelmed right now with the holidays, with getting by day be day, with the fact that it’s winter, with trying not to let the insanity emanating from DC and many state capitols, as well as from abroad, overtake their daily lives. So not having time to read the article is understandable. What isn’t, and what is also not forgivable, is that our news sources, including some of the best ones, seem to have gotten into a pattern of writing inaccurate and deceptive headlines and then tweeting them out to announce their reporting in a way that further compounds the inaccuracy. It is bad enough that there are hostile foreign state and, and in some cases both foreign and domestic, non-state actors conducting ongoing information and psychological warfare, having legitimate, credible sources of news doing the same thing because they can’t get their acts together makes the hostile state and non-state actors jobs easier.
Despite, or, perhaps, because of this morning’s settlement, Epstein’s crimes and the despicable story about how he was allowed to escape proper accountability for his crimes is not going away. The Miami Herald isn’t going to let this story go. And a lot of people’s foul, stinky laundry is going to get aired out in public. And the disingenuous stories they’ve been telling to cover their own misdeeds aren’t going to hold up when this happens.