Alex Acosta, the former South Florida prosecutor who more than a decade ago crafted what many consider a lenient plea deal for accused child sex-offender Jeffrey Epstein, is out as U.S. labor secretary.
Acosta’s resignation Friday came two days after he publicly defended his actions as the U.S. attorney for Florida’s southern district in 2008, when his office gave Epstein the plea deal now under intense scrutiny.
Federal prosecutors in New York charged Epstein on Monday with sex trafficking, accusing the hedge-fund billionaire of luring underage girls to mansions in Palm Beach and Manhattan and paying them to engage in nude massages and sex acts.
Epstein’s arrest and the federal charges are a contrast to the agreement approved by Acosta in 2008 that allowed Epstein to avoid a lengthy prison sentence.
The secret agreement was exposed in a series of stories by Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown, who’s been widely praised following Epstein’s arrest this week in New York.
Shortly after Acosta announced he would no longer serve in the administration of President Donald Trump, who said the decision to step down was Acosta’s, Florida Democrats began applauding the move.
“The days of men protecting predatory men without consequences are over,” Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Broward County Democrat who has repeatedly demanded Acosta’s ouster, said in a statement.
State Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, called Acosta’s resignation “a victory for crime victims everywhere.”
U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, a Palm Beach County Democrat, said in a press release statement she still wants answers on the “sweetheart deal” Acosta negotiated for Epstein.
“For the survivors to get justice, we need answers as to what happened at both the state attorney and federal prosecutor’s office in Florida,” Frankel said.