Gov. DeSantis signs legislation to unseal Jeffrey Epstein records

by | Feb 29, 2024

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation into law that facilitates the release of Grand Jury testimony for cases like Jeffrey Epstein’s, allowing for heightened transparency measures in investigations involving deceased subjects or crimes against minors.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday signed legislation that allows for the disclosure of Grand Jury testimony from the investigation into Jeffrey Epstein, among other cases.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Peggy Gossett-Seidman, amends state statute, broadening the criteria for bypassing grand jury secrecy in the interest of public good. The legislation stipulates instances in which the the unsealing of documents in cases like Epstein’s is permitted, such as when the subject is deceased, and the investigation pertains to crimes against minors or has previously been disclosed under a court order.

“The reality is, the investigation was largely stymied because you didn’t have access to the grand jury materials,” said DeSantis, who was joined by a group of Epstein’s victims. “The legislature and I agree that there needs to be a mechanism in some of these rare circumstances where people can get the truth, and where we can try to pursue justice.”

Under the bill’s purview, individuals can petition for the release of grand jury documents — contingent that the case meets prescribed prerequisites — which, under the new legal framework, mandates a more straightforward disclosure process unless an appeal is successfully lodged against the release.

The governor stated that as the legislation was drafted, his expectation is that the release of documents, particularly concerning cases within a single jurisdiction, will not be delayed by extensive legal challenges.

“We’re talking about one jurisdiction primarily where this is going to be done,” said the governor, specifically referencing the Epstein case file. “I think the legal hurdles will be cleared. When you’re dealing with Grand Jury material, there’s a lot of sensitivity with that, even for the custodian of it, even if that person may think some of this stuff has public interest there were laws in place. Now we’ve cleared the road for this and should be something that happens very quickly. Hopefully we get more answers.”

DeSantis also said that despite codified transparency measures, there may be instances where information is filtered through judicial discretion, though the bill was designed primarily to facilitate making information public.

“There is a possibility that a judge can order certain things redacted,” said DeSantis. “That is possible, but I think it’s structured in a way where that’s disfavored.”

Epstein, a financier, was arrested in July 2019 on charges of sex trafficking minors, having been accused of exploiting underage girls across multiple locations, including his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach. The investigation noted allegations dating back to the early 2000s, with Epstein facing accusations of creating a network for sexual exploitation and abuse.

His 2019 arrest brought ancillary legal actions to light, specifically a 2008 plea agreement in Florida that allowed him to serve a relatively short sentence for lesser state charges, a decision widely criticized for its leniency and exclusion of victims from the negotiation process. Under this agreement, Epstein pleaded guilty to state charges, serving 13 months with work release.


%d bloggers like this: