DeSantis Signs Bill to Release Jeffrey Epstein Record

Credits: FOX 13 Tampa Bay

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Thursday to release decades-old state grand jury records related to sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, who was found dead in his prison cell in 2019.

Though late in the legislative session, the measure is one of the few agenda items DeSantis had pledged to sign, according to Politico.

The bill would allow access to investigation documents from more than 20 years ago, when Palm Beach authorities first investigated Epstein for sexual abuse of minors, Politico reported. After a grand jury referral, the case resulted in a plea deal in which Epstein avoided federal charges and lengthy federal prison time.

DeSantis signs Epstein grand jury bill (Credits: CBS News)

Then-federal prosecutor Alex Acosta handled the agreement; he would later accept a role in the Trump administration as labor secretary. Reporting by the Miami Herald over Acosta’s involvement in the Epstein investigation caused an outcry that ultimately led Acosta to resign his secretary position.

While awaiting trial in 2019 on federal sex trafficking charges, Epstein was found dead in his prison cell, sparking conspiracy theories online that his death wasn’t a suicide.

After Epstein was arrested in Manhattan federal court, DeSantis ordered a probe into the deal, but in 2021 the Florida Department of Law Enforcement determined there was no wrongdoing by investigators or prosecutors, Politico reported. DeSantis took to social media last week to criticize the federal government for not releasing more Epstein-related documents.

“All files related to Jeffrey Epstein’s criminal activity should be made public,” DeSantis wrote in a post on X. “While the federal government continues to stonewall accountability, I’m glad the Legislature has taken action to release the grand jury material from the Florida state case. I will sign the bill into law.”

DeSantis called on President Joe Biden last week to release the federal government’s files on Epstein. “Biden should release the Epstein files associated with the federal government, which is probably much more extensive,” DeSantis said.

According to The Associated Press, the federal government released more than 3,000 pages this year, but questions remain about whether others were involved in the abuse.

The bill was presented to DeSantis on Wednesday, and he told reporters last week about his plans to sign it in Palm Beach, according to Politico. The Palm Beach Post reported that Epstein abuse survivors Hayley Robson and Jena-Lisa Jones appeared at the bill-signing press conference.

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