Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta on Wednesday repeatedly declined to apologize to accused child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s victims over his handling of Epstein’s case in 2008.
During a press conference at the Labor Department, journalists kept asking the labor secretary if he would apologize to the victims for giving Epstein a lenient plea deal back when Acosta was a U.S. attorney in Florida, or if he regretted the deal at all.
Each time, Acosta deflected to defending his team’s approach to the criminal case instead.
When a PBS News Hour reporter asked what message Acosta had for the victims who say they don’t trust him anymore, he simply said that victims of sexual abuse need to come forward.
“It’s important to realize that people were getting away with these [crimes]. People were not going to jail at all,” Acosta said. “And we’re aware of those high-profile cases. And we’ve seen, as victims come forward, how the justice system deals with them. And so the message to victims is ‘Come forward.'”
“Do you really have nothing else to say to these victims beyond ‘You should come forward’?” a reporter asked later on. “That places a lot of burden on children.”
Acosta said that the victims’ response to the plea deal is “entirely justified” but “at the time, I think it’s important to stand up for the prosecutors of my former office and make clear that what they were trying to do was help these victims.”
Acosta also refused to commit to meeting with the victims because the case is “currently in litigation.”
Watch Acosta below:
Acosta refuses to apologize to Epstein's victims, says his message is for sex abuse victims to "come forward." pic.twitter.com/jbQM0GyCQd
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) July 10, 2019