PALM BEACH (CBSMiami/AP) – A last-minute settlement has been reached in a long-running lawsuit involving a politically-connected financier accused of sexually abusing dozens of teenage girls.
The deal came Tuesday just before jury selection was to begin.
Financier Jeffrey Epstein was accused of using a lawsuit to maliciously target attorney Bradley Edwards, who represented some of Epstein’s victims, to damage his reputation.
Edwards sought unspecified damages from Epstein. Terms of the settlement are confidential.
Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 to state sex charges, served just over a year in jail and became a registered sex offender. In a secret deal with federal prosecutors led by now-Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, Epstein avoided a federal indictment that could have meant a life prison sentence.
A series of stories in the Miami Herald, published over the past week, outlined all the ways in which the U.S. Attorney’s Office under Acosta colluded with the Epstein defense team to hide the agreement from the press, public and victims until after it was executed.
In an apology read by his attorney, Epstein acknowledged he trumped up a lawsuit against Edwards because he said the lawsuits Edwards filed against Epstein on behalf of young sexual abuse victims abuse caused Epstein problems.
“The lawsuit I filed was my unreasonable attempt to damage his business reputation and cause Mr. Edwards to stop pursuing cases against me. It did not work,” according to the written apology.
“I am now admitting that I was wrong and that the things I said to try and harm Mr. Edward’s reputation as a trial lawyer were false. I sincerely apologize for the false and hurtful allegations I made and hope some forgiveness for my acknowledgement of wrongdoing,” it concluded.
Attorney Jack Scarola said Epstein is not an unintelligent person and it would take a fool not to recognize that he faces extremely serious jeopardy at this point.
Scarola said Epstein faces a possibility that his plea bargain could be set aside and that he and others will face criminal prosecution.
U.S. Representative Lois Frankel, a Democrat from West Palm Beach, has called for an inspector general’s probe into the Labor Secretary Alex Acosta’s handling of the allegations against Epstein.
Frankel and 11 House members sent a letter requesting an investigation into why Acosta, as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, cut a much-criticized plea deal for Epstein.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)