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Child Sex Trafficking Prosecutions Plummet Under Trump

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

Add child sex traffickers to Trump's basket of deplorables. Under his watch, federal prosecutions of that class of criminals have declined significantly.

In Trump's four years in office, both federal prosecutions against child sex traffickers, and the proportion of criminal referrals for child sex trafficking on which charges were brought, have both dropped, according to new data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a nonpartisan research effort by Syracuse University. That's a total reversal of how things were handled under President Obama; numbers on both counts climbed steadily.

This isn't surprising, considering what we know about Donald J. Trump. He once walked into the changing room of a Miss Teen USA beauty pageant while contestants – some as young as 15 – were in various stages of undress.



Trump addresses the contestants of the Miss Universe 2010 competition in Las Vegas. (Miss Universe Organization)

Trump claims that's his right. "I'll go backstage before a show and everyone's getting dressed," Trump told Howard Stern on his radio show. "I'm allowed to go in, because I'm the owner of the pageant and therefore I'm inspecting it… 'Is everyone OK'? You know, they're standing there with no clothes. 'Is everybody OK?' And you see these incredible looking women, and so I sort of get away with things like that."

He is known to have partied with the late child rapist Jeffrey Epstein – once alone with him and 28 'girls' at his Mar-a-Lago estate in the early 1990s. He once said of the poster boy for child sex trafficking and abuse, "I've known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific Guy. He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side."

Earlier this year when law enforcement finally snagged Epstein's partner in crime, Ghislaine Maxwell, who allegedly baited, groomed and molested underage girls herself, Trump said at a press conference on the coronavirus pandemic that he "wished her well."

And these are only the stories we know about.

So, while it's not shocking his administration has turned its back on the growing problem of child sex trafficking – just last year only 37 percent of cases were prosecuted. It is unconscionable.

Trump's scorecard against child sex traffickers is the worst in two decades. During the Obama administration, almost half of all criminal referrals were prosecuted. That compares with the Bush administration which prosecuted 46 percent. Trump's dismal record shows prosecutors chose to file charges in just 43 percent of cases over the past four years.

The reason given by federal attorneys for not prosecuting cases in fiscal year 2020? The good ole law-enforcement get-out-of-jail-free plum of too little evidence, according to TRAC. And if that didn't fit the bill, attorneys cited "a need to prioritize federal resources and interests."

It's too bad the clock's running out on this election. Because Trump's new campaign slogan could be, "We care about the wall, not the small."

Trump Defends Acosta Over Lenient Plea Deal For Sex Offender

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

While the fallout from the arrest and indictment of financier and alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein continues to rattle the administration, President Donald Trump made rambling and tone-deaf remarks on Tuesday about the case and its ties to Labor Secretary Alex Acosta.

Acosta was the U.S. attorney who oversaw a remarkably lenient plea deal Epstein received in 2008 in Florida while facing federal scrutiny for trafficking underage women. A judge has since ruled that the plea deal — which gave Epstein just 13 months in custody, served in a jail that he was reportedly allowed to leave for 12 hours a day, six days a week — violated the law because the victims were not informed.

But in Trump’s telling, Acosta is the victim.

“I feel very badly, actually, for Secretary Acosta — because I’ve known him as being somebody who works so hard and has done such a good job,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office Tuesday. “I feel very badly about that whole situation. But we’re going to be looking at that and looking at it very closely.”

Even for Trump, painting Acosta — whose role in the dubious sentencing remains unexplained — as the victim and ignoring the actual women who were abused was stunningly callous. As callous as he can be, he is typically careful enough to express sympathy for broadly sympathetic victims. But reading into his comments a bit, it seems Trump doesn’t actually care much about Acosta. There’s little reason to think Trump cares anymore about him than he does about anyone else. What Trump really means is that he feels bad for himself, he feels bad that Acosta’s past is reflecting badly on him as president, and he feels bad that the labor secretary has become yet another glaring stain on an outrageously corrupt and conflicted Cabinet.

The White House has previously claimed that it was “looking into” the Epstein case when Acosta’s role came under scrutiny in February. But then, as now, this claim was likely just a stalling tactic to see if the controversy will die down like all the others.

Trump’s other remarks about his own personal ties to Epstein made little sense. He claimed that he knew Epstein “like everybody else in Palm Beach knew him … he was a fixture in Palm Beach.” But then Trump immediately went on to say he had a “falling out” with Epstein, which is hard to understand if Trump only knew him as a prominent figure in the neighborhood. You have a “falling out” with someone you’re close to or have some kind of relationship with, someone you would have reason to fight or disagree with, not just some notable “fixture” in town.

Trump added: “I was not a fan of his. I was not a fan of his.”

Of course, this contradicted a widely cited quote from Trump in New York magazine, which even seems to suggest that he was potentially aware of Acosta’s criminal behavior:

“I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy,” Trump booms from a speakerphone. “He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it – Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”

Watch the clip below:

 

 

Judge: Labor Secretary Acosta Broke Law In Pedophile Plea Deal

On Thursday, a federal judge ruled that Trump’s secretary of labor, Alex Acosta, violated the law when he facilitated a lenient plea deal for a serial child sexual predator. But as of now, Trump isn’t planning to fire Acosta. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump is “looking into” the matter and that is “not aware of any changes” in Trump’s confidence in Acosta.

The ruling stems from a 2007 plea deal that Acosta, then a U.S. attorney, struck with Jeffrey Epstein, a Florida billionaire accused of molesting — and in at least one case, raping — more than 80 young women and underage girls. The case received renewed attention after a blockbuster investigation by the Miami Herald late last year uncovered the extent to which Acosta bent over backward to go easy on a child molester.

Under the terms of the deal Acosta negotiated, Epstein served only 13 months in county jail on two reduced charges of soliciting prostitution.

Now, as head of the Labor Department, Acosta is in charge of U.S. policy regarding sex trafficking.

District Judge Kenneth A. Marra ruled Acosta violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, a law giving victims the right to know about significant events in their cases. While Acosta and his team spent hours and hours working on the plea deal with Epstein, he kept Epstein’s victims in the dark. According to the judge, Acosta and his fellow prosecutors tried “to conceal the existence” of the plea deal “and mislead the victims to believe that federal prosecution was still a possibility.”

While the case and allegations are horrific, Trump has long known Epstein and had nothing but wonderful things to say about him in the past.

In 2002, Trump called Epstein “terrific guy,” and “a lot of fun to be with.”

“It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side,” Trump added.

Trump’s refusal to fire Acosta for being lenient on a child rapist fits a disturbing pattern regarding Trump’s view of women survivors of sexual abuse. Trump enthusiastically embraced Roy Moore in a 2017 Senate race, even after Moore was credibly accused of being a child predator. The following year, Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, and defended him after credible allegations surfaced that he once attempted to rape someone at a high school party.

Then again, Trump himself bragged about being a serial sexual predator, laughing about “grabbing women by the pussy” and getting away with it.

After the Miami Herald investigation, more than a dozen lawmakers sent a letter to the Department of Justice demanding an investigation into the plea deal. Earlier this month, the department opened an investigation, but it will be limited in scope and led by the Office of Professional Responsibility. The Washington Post notes that the investigation may drag on so long that Alex Acosta may not be in government service by the time it concludes.

But given Trump’s reluctance to stand up for the victims of sexual exploitation, it looks like Acosta could stay in place for quite some time.

Published with permission of The American Independent.