Alexander Acosta’s Attempts to Explain Away his Role in the Epstein Case Should Not Preclude his Resignation
US Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta spoke publicly today in an attempt to explain away his role in the unconscionable “sweetheart” deal given to serial abuser Jeffrey Epstein in 2008. His speech was largely full of blame-shifting and demurring about his role. Ultimately, what matters now is not what Secretary Acosta says publicly but what actions he takes to ensure that Epstein will never again be able to harm another child.
We know that Epstein is a billionaire with untold resources at his disposal. He is an obvious flight risk and should be kept in jail until his trial. Secretary Acosta should use what influence and power he has now to help ensure that Epstein is not freed on bail.
Then, once the Secretary has taken that step, he should resign. Why?
First, because we see no evidence that Secretary Acosta ever used his bully pulpit as a federal prosecutor to urge those who may have seen, suspected or suffered Epstein's crimes to come forward. That inaction itself was and is troubling, especially because we know that public appeals to abuse victims are effective and help considerably when prosecuting offenders. But this inaction becomes even more egregious when we remember that the Secretary never bothered to tell Epstein’s own victims about the plea agreement. It would appear that Secretary Acosta simply did not want to reach out to any victims, whether they were hidden or had already come forward.
Second, Secretary Acosta’s credibility in stopping sex crimes in near zero, but he leads the U.S. Department of Labor, the department that is tasked with the monitoring and prevention of crimes like sex trafficking. Given his record, we cannot be confident in the Secretary’s ability to treat these kinds of crimes with the severity they deserve.
Finally, if we really want to make a change in the culture that allows sexual violence to thrive, it is time for wrongdoers, whatever their political affiliation, to be punished, not ignored, promoted or tolerated.
This should start with Secretary Acosta, and he should resign today.
CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director (firstname.lastname@example.org, 517-974-9009)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)