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DeSantis signs legislation opening Jeffrey Epstein’s state grand jury records


Details of the state’s investigation of sex crimes by the late billionaire Jeffrey Epstein will be disclosed publicly under legislation signed Thursday by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“They say that justice delayed is justice denied. And I think in many repects this ordeal has shown that to be true,” the governor said during a bill-signing ceremony in Palm Beach.

Accompanying the governor were two of Epstein’s victims, Haley Robson and Jena-Lisa Jones.

“I can’t express enough how we’ve all been so affected by this. And I know for the regular, average citizen it’s just time that goes by. A lot of people tend to forget, but this is not something we should be forgetting about; this is not something to be sweeping under the rug. A lot of us are still in therapy; we’re still trying to survive,” Robson said.

“We have been left in the dark for so long with no answers to what is going on and why things played out the way that they did,” Jones added.

Narrowly tailored

The bill DeSantis signed (HB 117) was tailored to the circumstances of the Epstein case, allowing disclosure only “so long as the subject of the grand jury inquiry is deceased, the grand jury inquiry related to criminal or sexual activity between the subject of the grand jury investigation and a person who was a minor at the time of the alleged criminal or sexual activity, the testimony was previously disclosed by a court order, and the state attorney is provided notice of the request.”

DeSantis suggested the language might apply to similar cases. “I’m open to being able to institute policies that are going to try to right a wrong, because this was not handled in a way that delivered what justice required,” he said.

Palm Beach County authorities opened an investigation into alleged sexual abuse of minors in 2006 and sitting state’s attorney Barry Krischer referred the matter to a grand jury, which returned a misdemeanor count of soliciting a prostitute.

The move effectively sealed the case records, as grand jury files typically are not released publicly because they include unrebutted evidence presented only by one side, the prosecution.

Police later took the case to then-U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta (later secretary of labor in the Trump administration), who negotiated a plea bargain that kept Epstein out of prison. DeSantis ordered an investigation into the county’s handling of the case in 2021. Epstein hanged himself in a jail cell in New York that year while awaiting a new sex-trafficking trial.

DeSantis said he’d called while running for president for the release of information from the federal investigation in South Florida. “I would challenge Joe Biden to do that now.”

Florida Phoenix is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Florida Phoenix maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Diane Rado for questions: info@floridaphoenix.com. Follow Florida Phoenix on Facebook and Twitter.


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