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DeSantis signs bill on Epstein grand jury records

DeSantis signs Epstein grand jury bill
DeSantis signs Epstein grand jury bill 00:56

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday signed a bill that clears the way for the release of grand jury testimony about the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Epstein, a wealthy Palm Beach resident, was investigated by Palm Beach authorities in 2006 for allegedly sexually abusing young girls at his mansion, leading to a grand jury investigation. Through a deal approved by prosecutors in 2007, Epstein sidestepped federal charges and agreed to plead guilty to two state prostitution charges, including procuring a minor for sex.

The bill (HB 117), sponsored by Rep. Peggy Gossett-Seidman, R-Highland Beach, and Sen. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton, expands an exception to a prohibition on the disclosure of testimony or evidence received by grand juries. During a bill-signing event at the Palm Beach Police Department, DeSantis called it wrong that "a very rich and well-connected" person was able to "engineer an outcome that the average citizen would likely never have been able" to do.

"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," DeSantis said.

Polsky issued a statement that said she looks "forward to the transparency the legislation will provide" to people in the state.

"The public and the victims deserve to know if prosecutors steered the jury away from indicting Epstein on more severe charges," Polsky said. "We need to know if the system worked or failed in the pursuit of justice of this heinous individual."

Epstein was arrested in July 2019 on federal sex-trafficking offenses involving minor girls, and he was found dead in a New York jail in what was deemed a suicide. The Palm Beach Post filed a lawsuit in 2019 in an effort to obtain a court order to unseal the 2006 grand jury records.

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