Billionaire sex offender Jeffery Epstein has settled a dispute over legal fees that threatened a deal he made to avoid federal prosecution over alleged assaults of multiple young women and girls.
Court papers filed Monday in Miami indicated Epstein had reached a settlement with lawyers appointed to represent some of his alleged victims. The lawyers said Epstein owed them $2 million but terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
The lawyers claimed Epstein's failure to pay violated his agreement to avoid federal charges. Epstein said there was no violation and disputed the $2 million figure.
A registered sex offender, Epstein is serving house arrest in Palm Beach, Fla., as part of his 2008 guilty plea to two state prostitution counts.
I'll need to look into this issue more, but it wouldn't surprise me to learn that the billionaire rapist was able to avoid prison by paying off his alleged victims. There are at least two problems with this.
The first is a tired-but-true complaint: The rich have a separate system of justice. There's nothing novel for me to say about that.
The second complaint about involves the "privatization" of our criminal justice system. Here is a trend I've noticed for the past half-decade, but that doesn't get enough attention.
A civil lawsuit is a private suit. You hire your own lawyer. You file a lawsuit to vindicate your private interests. If someone breaches a contract with me, what's it to you, dear readers? Nothing. It's strictly an issue between me and the person who breached his contract with me. It's private, not public. When I sue, the case will read: Mike v. Contract Breacher.
When I file my lawsuit seeking money, I don't get to rely on prosecutors to enforce my rights. They won't act as my bullies or bodyguards. Instead, it's mean against the person who violated my private rights.
A rape is said to be a crime against the State. Thus, a criminal case reads: People of the State of California v. Rapist. A rape against a fellow citizen is said to injure all of us.
If this billionaire raped these women, then it was a crime against the State. Whether the women want the State to file suit or not should be irrelevant. It's not up to the victims: It's up to the State. The State, again, is the victim.
Instead, victims get the best of all words. They get the full power of the State - which means me and you, as taxpayers - while also enriching themselves.
If prosecutions are to remain public matters, then settlements like that described in the article must be abolished. Otherwise, let's return to the Roman system of private prosecutions. An alleged victim should not be able to use the power of the State to extort millions from a rapist.
Moreover, if this billionaire is a rapist, why is he free? Will he rape you, your daughter, wife, or friends? He remains free because his alleged victims were able to get paid.
The alleged victims played both sides. They used the state to make millions. Meanwhile, they ensured that a rapist remained free.