Justice Department opens probe into Jeffrey Epstein plea deal, How a future Trump Cabinet member gave a serial sex abuser the deal of a lifetime

February 7, 2019 § Leave a comment

Justice Department opens probe into Jeffrey Epstein plea deal
By Julie K. Brown February 06, 2019

The Department of Justice has opened an investigation into Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta’s role in negotiating a controversial plea deal with a wealthy New York investor accused of molesting more than 100 underage girls in Palm Beach.

The probe is in response to a request by Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who was critical of the case following a series of stories in the Miami Herald. The Herald articles detailed how Acosta, then the U.S. attorney for Southern Florida, and other DOJ attorneys worked hand-in-hand with defense lawyers to cut a lenient plea deal with multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein in 2008.

The Herald’s three-part series, Perversion of Justice, was cited by Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd in his letter to Sasse. DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility will head the investigation, he said.

“OPR has now opened an investigation into allegations that department attorneys may have committed professional misconduct in the manner in which the Epstein criminal matter was resolved,’’ wrote Boyd in the letter dated Wednesday.

“Jeffrey Epstein is a child rapist and there’s not a single mom or dad in America who shouldn’t be horrified by the fact that he received a pathetically soft sentence,’’ Sasse said on Wednesday. “The victims of Epstein’s child sex trafficking ring deserve this investigation — and so do the American people and the members of law enforcement who work to put these kinds of monsters behind bars.’’

Former Palm Beach Police Chief Michael Reiter — who pressured Acosta and former Palm Beach state prosecutor Barry Krischer to more aggressively prosecute Epstein — said he would like to see Epstein’s victims finally receive some form of justice.

“I hope that the Department of Justice investigation answers the questions of why this case was handled by the U.S. attorney’s office in the way that it was, and may it somehow result in justice and an apology by the government for the victims and their families,’’ Reiter said.

The case has raised fundamental questions about whether well-connected, wealthy people wield influence over prosecutors and others in the justice system. Epstein had a wide circle of powerful friends, including Bill Clinton, President Donald Trump, Prince Andrew, lawyer Alan Dershowitz and a former prime minister of Israel, Ehud Barak….

Epstein, 66, could have faced a possible life sentence for sex trafficking, but instead was secretly granted federal immunity, along with others who were part of the conspiracy, some of whom were named, others not.

Epstein was suspected by the FBI of running an international sex trafficking operation involving minors, and federal prosecutors had drafted a 53-page indictment that was shelved after Acosta signed off on a non-prosecution agreement in September 2007.

For months after the deal was executed, federal prosecutors kept Epstein’s victims in the dark, and the FBI led some of them to believe the investigation was ongoing. Most of the girls, ages 13 to 16 at the time, found out about the plea bargain only after learning about it on television when Epstein was sentenced in June 2008.

Acosta agreed to seal the agreement and keep it from Epstein’s victims so that the girls couldn’t try to derail it before he was sentenced, the Herald found.

Epstein’s agreement called for him to serve 18 months in the Palm Beach County jail and to register as a sex offender. But even in jail, Epstein received liberal work release privileges that required him to spend little time in a cell. Six days a week, he was picked up at the jail by his private driver and driven to an office in downtown West Palm Beach, where he spent up to 12 hours a day greeting friends, lawyers and several young women who were named by federal prosecutors as participants in his sex trafficking scheme….

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/article225624945.html

How a future Trump Cabinet member gave a serial sex abuser the deal of a lifetime
BY Julie K. Brown Nov. 28, 2018

….His client, Palm Beach multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein, 54, was accused of assembling a large, cult-like network of underage girls — with the help of young female recruiters — to coerce into having sex acts behind the walls of his opulent waterfront mansion as often as three times a day, the Town of Palm Beach police found.

The eccentric hedge fund manager, whose friends included former President Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Prince Andrew, was also suspected of trafficking minor girls, often from overseas, for sex parties at his other homes in Manhattan, New Mexico and the Caribbean, FBI and court records show.

Facing a 53-page federal indictment, Epstein could have ended up in federal prison for the rest of his life.

But on the morning of the breakfast meeting, a deal was struck — an extraordinary plea agreement that would conceal the full extent of Epstein’s crimes and the number of people involved.

Not only would Epstein serve just 13 months in the county jail, but the deal — called a non-prosecution agreement — essentially shut down an ongoing FBI probe into whether there were more victims and other powerful people who took part in Epstein’s sex crimes, according to a Miami Herald examination of thousands of emails, court documents and FBI records.

The pact required Epstein to plead guilty to two prostitution charges in state court. Epstein and four of his accomplices named in the agreement received immunity from all federal criminal charges. But even more unusual, the deal included wording that granted immunity to “any potential co-conspirators’’ who were also involved in Epstein’s crimes. These accomplices or participants were not identified in the agreement, leaving it open to interpretation whether it possibly referred to other influential people who were having sex with underage girls at Epstein’s various homes or on his plane.

As part of the arrangement, Acosta agreed, despite a federal law to the contrary, that the deal would be kept from the victims. As a result, the non-prosecution agreement was sealed until after it was approved by the judge, thereby averting any chance that the girls — or anyone else — might show up in court and try to derail it….
https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/article220097825.html

New York passes Child Victims Act, allowing child sex abuse survivors to sue their abusers, Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination and the moral context of trauma science

January 30, 2019 § Leave a comment

New York passes Child Victims Act, allowing child sex abuse survivors to sue their abusers

By Augusta Anthony, CNN Mon January 28, 2019

New York (CNN)The New York State Legislature passed a bill on Monday that will increase the statute of limitations for cases of child sexual abuse.

The Child Victims Act will allow child victims to seek prosecution against their abuser until the age of 55 in civil cases, a significant increase from the previous limit of age 23. For criminal cases, victims can seek prosecution until they turn 28. The bill also includes a one-year window during which victims of any age or time limit can come forward to prosecute.

“New York has just gone from being one of the worst states in the country to being one of the best,” in terms of the statute of limitations for child sex abuse cases, said Marci Hamilton, CEO of Child USA and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

Hamilton said the bill “represents over 15 years of work by survivors and advocates trying to get around the stiff opposition from the Catholic bishops and the insurance industry” and is a step forward in the national conversation. There are eight other states considering similar legislation….

Catholic Church opposition

Monday’s bill passage comes after more than a decade of opposition from the Catholic Church in New York. In a news conference on Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is a Roman Catholic, blamed the church directly for preventing the bill’s passage.

Speaking about why the bill took years to pass, Cuomo said, “I believe it was the conservatives in the Senate who were threatened by the Catholic Church.” The bill passed the Senate unanimously on Monday. In November 2018, Democrats took over the Republican-held Senate….

https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/28/us/new-york-child-victims-act/index.html

Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination and the moral context of trauma science
Michael Salter Published online: 24 Jan 2019

Download citation https://doi.org/10.1080/15299732.2019.1571858

The fraught process surrounding the recent nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court was a spectacular deployment of institutional power to suppress good faith allegations of sexual violence. Trauma survivors and their allies have been shaken by the public scorn and victim-blaming that occurred when a childhood acquaintance of Kavanaugh’s, Christine Blasey Ford, alleged she had been sexually assaulted by him while they were at high school. Kavanaugh denied the allegation and US President Donald Trump firmly supported him. The matter only became more heated when, after Ford agreed to testify publicly to the Senate Judiciary Committee, two other women come forward with allegations of sexual assault and improper conduct by Kavanaugh.

The response of Kavanaugh and his supporters was replete with the rhetoric of denial. Kavanaugh variously characterized the allegations as part of a “coordinated effort” and “conspiracy” to destroy his reputation and prevent his nomination. President Trump agreed that the three women describing abuse by Kavanaugh were politically motivated. He went on to suggest that one woman “has nothing” on Kavanaugh because she “admits she was drunk” at the time of the alleged assault. Conservative media commentators speculated that Ford was suffering from “false memories” of rape, or had mistaken her actual attacker for Kavanaugh. Such language, reverberating from the White House and its spokespeople and advocates, represents a sustained campaign of institutional betrayal that only compounds the trauma of sexual assault (Smith & Freyd, 2013 Smith, C. P., & Freyd, J. J. (2013). Dangerous safe havens: Institutional betrayal exacerbates sexual trauma. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 26(1), 119–124. doi:10.1002/jts.21778[Crossref], [PubMed], [Web of Science ®], , [Google Scholar]), consonant with other policy positions that have profoundly traumatised the vulnerable (Smidt & Freyd, 2018 Smidt, A. M., & Freyd, J. J. (2018). Government-mandated institutional betrayal. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 26(5), 491–499.[Taylor & Francis Online], , [Google Scholar]).

The proposition that allegations of sexual violence are motivated by animus or the product of confabulation or “false memories” has a long and shameful history (Campbell, 2003 Campbell, S. (2003). Relational remembering: Rethinking the memory wars. Oxford, UK: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc. [Google Scholar]). Movements against sexual assault and child abuse have routinely been accused of hiding an ideological agenda, or creating the conditions for false allegations by confused women and children. The conflicts surrounding Kavanaugh’s appointment have highlighted the persistence of a culture of disbelief.

However, it is notable that the attempts by Kavanaugh’s supporters to invoke pseudo-scientific explanations for Ford’s allegation found considerably less purchase in the mass media than they might have in the past. Questions about the integrity of Ford’s memory were largely limited to right wing and conservative media, and were rejected in statements from the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation and the American Psychological Association. Progress against the institutionalized mechanics of denial and unaccountability is substantive although clearly incomplete (Brand & McEwen, 2016 Brand, B. L., & McEwen, L. (2016). Ethical standards, truths, and lies. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 17(3), 259–266. doi:10.1080/15299732.2016.1114357[Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®], , [Google Scholar])….

While I hesitate to argue that we can read life lessons directly from research findings, it does appear to me that the overall direction of trauma research and treatment trends in a particular moral direction. If we seek to find opportunities for trauma survivors to recover and live well, and if we want to promote the conditions in which people are not traumatised in the first place, then we are necessarily advancing moral propositions about human happiness and flourishing. Research on trauma, recovery and psychological wellbeing consistently finds that human beings thrive when we are embedded in emotionally rich, mutual and equitable relationships. This conclusion furnishes us with a powerful and, I think, very appealing image of a good life – one characterized by dignity, equality, accountability, and shared recognition – that the trauma field should not hesitate in articulating clearly. Political theorist Alford (2016 Alford, C. F. (2016). Trauma, culture, and PTSD. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.[Crossref], , [Google Scholar]) suggests that a key reason for the expanding public interest in trauma science is precisely because the concept of ‘trauma’ provides a rare acknowledgement of human relationality and vulnerability in a culture that is exhaustively individualistic and atomizing.

When a person like Christine Blasey Ford stands up to testify to a traumatic event, in opposition to incredibly powerful forces, we can recognize this as a courageous step in the fulfillment of a moral vision that we also have a stake in. The visceral and hate-filled response that has driven her, and her family, from their home is stark evidence of the cost paid by people who challenge the structures of traumatisation. Such costs have, of course, been visited in the past on trauma therapists and researchers whose ethical and scientific convictions have also bought them into conflict with vested interests. However the tremendous support that rallied around Christine Blasey Ford, and that recognised and celebrated her bravery in stepping forward with her story, indicates a growing consensus that opposes traumatizing social formations and seeks an alternative. Trauma research and theory, I would argue, is well placed to elaborate on what those alternatives might be.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15299732.2019.1571858

RNC Finance Chair Steve Wynn Accused Of Decades Of Sexual Misconduct, Inside the CIA’s cold war ‘mind control’ program

January 31, 2018 Comments Off on RNC Finance Chair Steve Wynn Accused Of Decades Of Sexual Misconduct, Inside the CIA’s cold war ‘mind control’ program

RNC Finance Chair Steve Wynn Accused Of Decades Of Sexual Misconduct: Report
The Las Vegas mogul has been accused of sexually harassing and abusing female employees.
By Antonia Blumberg 01/26/2018

President Donald Trump has called Steve Wynn, seen here in March 2016, a “great friend.”

Las Vegas mogul Steve Wynn has been accused of a decades-long pattern of sexual harassment and abuse toward workers at his casinos, according to an investigation by The Wall Street Journal.
Dozens of current and former employees at Wynn’s gambling establishments told the Journal they had experienced or witnessed chronic abuse by the billionaire, who was named finance chairman for the Republican National Convention last year.
The allegations range from lewd comments and inappropriate touching to soliciting sex acts from women who worked as manicurists and massage therapists at Wynn’s Las Vegas casinos.
One former employee at Wynn Las Vegas said the mogul pressured her into having unwanted sex with him after she gave him a manicure in 2005. Wynn later agreed to pay the woman a $7.5 million settlement after she filed a report.
“The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous,” Wynn said in a statement shared with HuffPost. “We find ourselves in a world where people can make allegations, regardless of the truth, and a person is left with the choice of weathering insulting publicity or engaging in multi-year lawsuits. It is deplorable for anyone to find themselves in this situation.”….
Current and former employees who spoke with the Journal said they were nervous about coming forward due to Wynn’s influence in the casino industry. Wynn is worth over $3.5 billion, by Forbes’ estimate. He owns two sprawling Las Vegas casinos ― the Wynn and Encore resorts ― as well as two other complexes in Macau. Another $2.4 billion Wynn casino is in construction in the Boston area.
His power and influence, like those of other prominent men who have been accused of recurrent sexual abuse, may have led him to feel invincible in his own domain.
Current and former employees told the Journal that Wynn would frequently walk around in short shorts with no underwear, exposing his genitals when he sat to receive a pedicure. He would proposition female employees in his private office and even allegedly asked a former executive to get him the phone numbers of casino cocktail waitresses.
“Everybody was petrified,” said Jorgen Nielsen, a former artistic director at the resort’s on-site salon, who told the Journal that female employees would hide in bathrooms and back closets when they heard Wynn was approaching….
 
Wormwood: Inside the CIA’s cold war ‘mind control’ program by Tamsin Shaw Jan 30 2018
In Errol Morris’ new series, Wormwood, which blends documentary with dramatic reconstructions, he sets out to explore an episode in the history of US intelligence that is irresistibly sensational, the CIA’s cold war “mind control” program of the 1950s and 1960s.
Code-named MK-ULTRA, the program involved agents experimenting with methods for gaining full control of a person’s thoughts and behaviour using LSD, hypnosis, electric shocks, and other bizarre means….
The six-part series focuses on the death of Frank Olson, an army scientist who worked on biological weapons research at Camp Detrick, a US army camp in Maryland, but who subsequently became a CIA operative involved in Project ARTICHOKE, a predecessor to MK-ULTRA that focused, with brutal rigour, on interrogation methods…..
Surprisingly, though, the most jarring and psychologically revealing interviews are not with Olson’s son, but with Hersh. More than 40 years after Hersh broke the story, Eric Olson confronted him in 2016 (the year before Morris made the documentary) with fresh evidence, including a new autopsy report that, he claimed, demonstrated the suicide story was false; it was a murder.
Eric also insisted that Hersh had been taken in, by the CIA, that he had “swallowed the cover story” about LSD, when, in fact, his father was silenced because of his involvement in Project ARTICHOKE and in bioweapons research, about which he had loudly expressed serious moral qualms….
Truman published a National Security Committee paper that essentially legitimised the doctrine of “plausible deniability” for the CIA, specifying its role in covert operations with effect that “any US government responsibility for them is not evident to unauthorised persons and that if uncovered the US government can plausibly disclaim any responsibility for them”. This gave the CIA (and any other parties involved in such covert operations) broad licence to deceive Americans.
Allen Dulles was unrestrained in his cultivation of behavioural science initiatives that would assist in the manipulation of individuals and societies.
The dramatic term “brainwashing” became popular in describing this attempt to discover fundamental mechanisms through which human thought and behaviour could be controlled. Many of America’s most distinguished behavioural scientists, who had served in the OSS (forerunner to the CIA) during the war, competing with the Nazis to develop techniques of manipulation, then transitioned seamlessly into this new cold war effort. (The Americans prosecuted Dachau’s doctors at Nuremberg – but not before they had plundered Dachau for the results of the Nazis’ studies on the use of mescaline and other drugs for mind control.)
In a 1949 study for the US Air Force, Yale’s Irving Janis claimed that the Soviets were using hypnosis, drugs, electroshock, and other means to extract false confessions. He thereby helped to lay out the program followed in the CIA’s mind-control research.
This program was funded primarily via the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation, and, under various pretexts, the most prominent social psychologists at America’s Ivy League universities experimented very freely with those methods.
Social psychologists also studied mind control on a societal scale. During the war, Janis and MIT’s Ithiel de Sola Pool had already begun comparing Nazi and Soviet propaganda and conducting systematic content analysis of Soviet publications. Propaganda researchers naturally continued to receive lavish CIA funding afterwards.
Hadley Cantril’s Institute for International Social Research at Princeton, for example, received at least $US1 million from the CIA via the Rockefeller Foundation (Cantril’s reports on the social psychology of the Soviets were sent directly to Eisenhower).
Harvard’s Herbert Kelman described his work as part of a social-psychological effort to develop “general principles of social influence and socially induced behaviour change”, inspired, in his own case, by Chinese Communist methods of “thought reform”…..
Morris shows footage of articulate but apparently “brainwashed” prisoners making “false confessions” to using germ warfare. Eric Olson feels certain that his father, who had worked in the bioweapons program at Camp Detrick, discovered that these weapons actually were being used in Korea and that this discovery instigated his outspoken dissent.
In his view, the CIA claims of brainwashing were part of a cover story invented to discredit what were, in fact, true confessions. No evidence has been found that the American prisoners of war were subjected to any special methods of psychological manipulation, such as hypnosis, drugs, or shocks.
Equally, though, no evidence that is not circumstantial has been found to corroborate the Korean claims about air-drops of infected insects used to spread deadly pathogens.
Behavioural science
We do know that the cold war bequeathed a branch of behavioural science built around the desire to discover universal psychological mechanisms through which human beings could be manipulated.
The most famous experiments of mind-control research from the era are the shock experiments conducted by Stanley Milgram at Yale in 1961-1962. (Peter Sarsgaard, as it happens, played Milgram in a 2015 movie about these tests called Experimenter.)
Milgram led his subjects to believe that they were administering electric shocks to a man in an adjacent room whenever he got an answer wrong on a quiz, but the man apparently screaming in pain was a hired actor.
In one study, 65 per cent of the subjects were prepared to turn the shocks up to the maximum level, labelled “Danger. Severe Shock”. Both the Office of Naval Research and the National Science foundation were interested in funding this research into “action conformity” in which Milgram aimed to compel people to act “in violation of deeply rooted standards of behaviour”….
http://www.afr.com/news/politics/wormwood-inside-the-cias-cold-war-mind-control-program-20180125-h0ol99

 

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