Dispute over sealed documents in billionaire sex case

By Chuck Weber - bio | email

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Was a deal with prosecutors improperly kept a secret in the case of Palm Beach billionaire Jeffrey Epstein? Wednesday lawyers for three women suing Epstein and a lawyer for the Palm Beach Post, asked a judge to unseal the documents related to the deal.

In June of last year, Epstein took a plea deal in state court giving him a year and a half sentence for soliciting an underage girl for prostitution. The deal allowed him to serve that time in the Palm Beach County Jail instead of prison. (He's currently in a work release program.) At that hearing, the judge sealed another agreement Epstein struck earlier with federal prosecutors allowing him to avoid federal charges.

On Wednesday, lawyers for the victims and the newspaper said the sealing of the agreement violated the state's procedures for putting court documents off limits to the public.

Attorney Brad Edwards, who represents three women in lawsuits against Epstein, expressed his displeasure with the process. "Worked out behind the victims backs and then sealed so nobody even knows what the deal is," he exclaimed. "Never heard of it happening before. I can't think of any other reason it would happen in this case, but for his power, influence, wealth."

"He is not getting special treatment," countered Jack Goldberger, a lawyer representing Epstein. "I think the law allows the record to be sealed under these circumstances, and we'll advocate that in the papers that we file."

The lawyers for the three victims say while they have seen the sealed agreement, they are forbidden from asking questions about it in depositions they conduct for their cases. They say their ability to try the cases is hampered.

Judge Jeffrey Colbath set a hearing for June 25 to resolve the issue.