Ever since Jeffrey Epstein became a pariah for abusing dozens of teenage girls at his Palm Beach mansion, federal prosecutors have been blasted for engineering “the deal of the century” for the uber-wealthy sexual predator.
But the twisted saga started and could have ended with the official originally handed the case: former Palm Beach County State Attorney Barry Krischer.
The veteran prosecutor set the stage for this international outrage by crippling his own case more than a decade ago, a Palm Beach Post investigation found.
Krischer acted as if Epstein’s teenage accusers were prostitutes who eagerly sold their bodies to buy clothes at the mall instead of treating them like local high school girls claiming sexual assault by a man four decades their senior.
Without interviewing the girls or their parents, Krischer decided he didn’t believe them, his investigative files indicate. His lead prosecutor declared more than once that there were “no victims” in the case, according to documents obtained by The Post.
Finally, Krischer found a secret way to sink the case: He took it to a grand jury where only one victim testified.
Thirteen underage teens gave police nearly identical accounts of how the politically connected financier used his wealth to exploit them. Yet the task of convincing jurors that Epstein was a predator fell on the shoulders of one 14-year-old girl.
Epstein’s tactics were those of a seasoned sexual predator, said Palm Beach Gardens attorney Michael Dolce, who specializes in representing victims of sexual assault. Those who prey on young people are master manipulators, he said.
“You were paid for this so you wanted it,” Dolce said of the message Epstein planted in the minds of his victims and those who ultimately judged them.
For 16- and 17-year-old victims, Krischer told him, “it was the policy of the state attorney’s office not to charge molestation type cases or even a sex type battery case when it was consensual,” Reiter testified in a deposition.
Dolce called both suggestions alarming. To think the county’s top prosecutor would unilaterally lower the age of consent or consider that teens can participate in consensual sex with much older men defies both the law and common sense, he said.
“So, it’s open season on 16- and 17-year-olds?” he asked.
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