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Ron DeSantis approves release of more Jeffrey Epstein records: Florida governor signs bill to release details of his Palm Beach sex trafficking conviction

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a bill authorizing the release of records related to the initial investigation into Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking operation.

The Republican traveled to Palm Beach to sign the bill, HB 117, which will give access to the 2006 grand jury that resulted in a criminal indictment against the disgraced financier that many called questionably lenient.

“There were a lot of questions about what happened when you had a sweetheart deal… This should have happened a long time ago, but again, we feel we can’t just turn a blind eye,” said DeSantis, who was accompanied by two of Epstein’s victims, Haley Robson and Jena-Lisa Cordovez.

“What happened was clearly wrong, and the punishment was simply completely inadequate for the crime.”

The bill, which passed the state Legislature unanimously last week, will take effect July 1. However, the data could be released sooner as part of a lawsuit by the Palm Beach Post.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis traveled to Palm Beach to sign the bill, HB 117, which provides access to the 2006 grand jury that resulted in a criminal indictment against Jeffrey Epstein

The bill would provide access to the first investigation into Epstein's sexual abuse of minors.  Epstein is seen with convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell

The bill would provide access to the first investigation into Epstein’s sexual abuse of minors. Epstein is seen with convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell

Last year, a Florida appeals court opened the door to the possible release of transcripts from the grand jury investigation into the notorious sex trafficker — which ended with prosecutors negotiating a plea deal.

Florida’s treatment of Epstein came under scrutiny in 2018 after a series of Miami Herald articles detailing disagreements that surfaced among law enforcement officials starting in 2005 after teenage girls and young women told Palm Beach police investigators that Epstein had sexually assaulted them abused.

Palm Beach police thought they had a strong case to file sexual assault charges against Epstein, but Krischer and his prosecutors disagreed, saying Epstein’s lawyers would have opportunities to challenge the victims’ credibility and that a conviction was unlikely.

A grand jury heard the case, but no charges were filed.

Palm Beach police, meanwhile, presented their evidence to federal prosecutors, who threatened to file charges until an agreement was reached in June 2008.

“This is long overdue, but again, we feel like we can't just turn a blind eye,” said DeSantis, who was accompanied by two of Epstein's victims.

“This is long overdue, but again, we feel like we can’t just turn a blind eye,” said DeSantis, who was accompanied by two of Epstein’s victims.

1709229808 789 Ron DeSantis approves release of more Jeffrey Epstein records Florida

Palm Beach authorities investigated Epstein between 2005 and 2006 after teenage girls and young women told investigators the billionaire financier sexually abused them at his Palm Beach mansion, which has since been demolished

Epstein subsequently pleaded guilty to charges of soliciting a person under the age of 18 for prostitution and misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution. He was sentenced to 18 months in Palm Beach County Jail, followed by 12 months of home confinement and required to register as a sex offender.

The financier was 66 when he committed suicide in a federal prison cell in New York City in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. Federal prosecutors had accused him of paying underage girls hundreds of dollars for massages at his homes in Florida and New York, where he then abused them.

In 2019, just days before Epstein committed suicide, DeSantis ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to take over the investigation into how the Epstein case was handled by state employees.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said it has found no evidence that Jeffrey Epstein received special treatment

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said it has found no evidence that Jeffrey Epstein received special treatment

In 2021, Florida investigators cleared Palm Beach prosecutors and sheriff’s officials of any criminal wrongdoing in connection with their dealings with the sex offender.

Both the district attorney’s office and the sheriff had been criticized by Epstein’s victims and their advocates for the sentencing agreement he received and for his participation in a work release program that allowed him to travel up to 16 hours most days to his office, where he possibly involved in sexual abuse of underage girls.

In three separate reports, Florida investigators wrote that they found no evidence that a sheriff’s deputy, former State’s Attorney Barry Krischer or any of his accusers “were coerced, bribed or engaged in any criminal activity in the performance of their duties.”

While in the custody of the Palm Beach sheriff’s office, Epstein was allowed to stay in an isolated cell in the county’s minimum-security stockade, where he walked freely and watched television.

State investigators said in a 2021 report that isolating him was a wise decision, saying it was made to protect Epstein from other inmates and to prevent him from using his wealth to become “king of the dorms.” become.

Epstein was also soon accepted into the county’s work release program. During that time, he was taken to his office, where he claimed he was running his financial consulting firm and his foundation.

By the time he was released, he was spending six days a week, 18 hours a day, in his office. He had to wear an ankle monitor and hire two officers to monitor his whereabouts from the lobby, but they were not with him in his office.

A woman, then 17, and another woman, who was an adult at the time, have said they were trafficked to Epstein’s office at the time to have paid sex with him.

Epstein’s former girlfriend, socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, is serving a 20-year prison sentence after being convicted in 2021 of luring girls to his homes to be abused.