February 25, 2019


Robert Kraft, Jeffrey Epstein, Donald Trump and a day of reckoning for America's billionaires (Will Bunch, February 24, 2019, Philly.com)

The women who serviced Bob Kraft were lured to America, typically from China, and promised a better life through legitimate massage-therapy work. According to local law-enforcement authorities who last week shut down not just the Orchids of Asia but five other spas and massage parlors along Florida's Gold Coast, these women were brought to an alien land halfway across the world from home and then pressured into prostitution with no days off and "minimal" hygiene. They lived in spartan quarters right there on the premises, so they can work until all hours of the night, having sex with 1,500 men a year.

These modern-day sex slaves worked for a clientele that were the supposed pillars of the affluent zip codes in and around Palm Beach -- members of the clergy and respectable business people, including, according to police, at least one other billionaire, Massachusetts equity fund owner John Childs. Childs has also donated a whopping $4.3 million to Republican causes, presumably to elect "family values" candidates. Did Childs, Kraft and these other paragons of civic virtue realize that they were subsidizing slavery? That doesn't matter -- what's so galling is that they didn't care, that the word wasn't even in their vocabulary.

Will Kraft get away with this? If his case goes down anything like that of his Palm Beach neighbor Epstein, he just might. Epstein, a former Bear Stearns partner and billionaire financier, was accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage teen girls at his Palm Beach mansion between 2001 and 2006. The investigation began in 2005 with a tip to Palm Beach police about a 14-year-old girl who'd been brought there and paid $300 to strip and massage Epstein. A lengthy FBI investigation led to molestation allegations against Epstein from 36 different girls, many of whom were lured from troubled homes in what the Miami Herald later described as "a cult-like scheme."

But the billionaire's young victims were eventually abused not once but twice -- first by Jeffrey Epstein, and then by the U.S. Justice Department. Its prosecutors -- presented with a mound of evidence on the scale of a Jerry Sandusky or a Bill Cosby -- agreed to a stunning slap on the wrist. Epstein was allowed to plead to just one state felony charge of soliciting prostitution and granted immunity from federal charges. Coconspirators -- known and unknown, potentially including the rich and powerful of Palm Beach -- also got immunity.

Incredibly, Epstein slept just 13 months in a county jail and was allowed to leave for work every day. Even worse, as the Herald's Julie K. Brown (a former Daily News colleague and friend) reported in her Polk Award-winning series, Epstein's victims were never informed of his sweetheart deal or allowed to weigh in. On Friday, a judge ruled that Justice Department lawyers broke the law in their handling of the deal. The man who oversaw all of this -- the then-U.S. Attorney for Miami, Alex Acosta -- has moved on. He is still the U.S. Secretary of Labor, appointed by Epstein's friend President Trump.

Posted by at February 25, 2019 12:00 AM