Washington, DC – The Eleventh Circuit has issued a misguided ruling rejecting Courtney Wild’s lawsuit challenging Jeffery Epstein’s 2007 plea deal under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA). For over a decade, Wild has bravely sought justice after she and scores of other victims of Epstein were left in the dark as federal prosecutors negotiated a secret and appallingly lenient plea deal, allowing Epstein to continue to prey on innocent girls and young women. Despite rightly characterizing the treatment of Epstein’s victims as a “national disgrace,” the majority held that plea deals aren’t covered under the CVRA, and so Wild could not legally seek relief.
Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), Co-Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Co-Chair of the Florida Congressional Delegation, issued the following response:
“Once again, the majority got it wrong. While noting that the way Epstein’s victims were treated by federal prosecutors made him sick, Judge Newsom said his job is 'to faithfully interpret and apply the laws that Congress has passed in accordance with the precedents that the Supreme Court has established’. I couldn’t agree more, which makes it all the more shocking that the majority seemingly ignored the amicus brief submitted by the original authors of the CVRA, Senator Diane Feinstein, and former Senators Jon Kyl and Orrin Hatch. In the compelling brief, they argued that the plain language of the CVRA covers exactly this type of case. This ruling sets a dangerous precedent that all perpetrators must do to circumvent crime victims’ rights is to achieve a plea deal. Now, more than ever, Congress must act and pass legislation to ensure no survivor is again denied his or her rights when seeking justice. If we had been able to enact CVRA reform, perhaps Courtney and scores of other victims might have been spared the betrayal of the justice system, and Epstein would have been rotting in jail where he belonged instead of violating young women and girls.”
Rep. Speier’s and Rep. Wasserman Schultz’s bipartisan bills, the Courtney Wild Crime Victims’ Rights Reform Act and Crime Victims’ Rights Act of 2020, would strengthen the CVRA so that victims of crime are treated with the dignity they deserve throughout a criminal case and to avoid further victimization. Among other provisions, these bills clarify that victims of federal crimes have the right to confer with the government and be informed about key pre-charging developments in a case, such as plea bargains, non-prosecution agreements, and referrals to state and local law enforcement.
Click here for the text of the bipartisan Courtney Wild Crime Victims’ Rights Reform Act.
Click here for the text of the bipartisan Crime Victim’s Rights Act of 2020.