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12 Epstein accusers sue the FBI for allegedly failing to protect them

Inside the newly released Epstein documents
Explaining the newly released Epstein documents 05:30

Twelve accusers of Jeffrey Epstein, the sex offender and billionaire whose trafficking charges made international headlines, sued the FBI for failure to protect them, according to a complaint filed Wednesday in federal court in the Southern District of New York.

The lawsuit, which was filed under the pseudonym Jane Doe to protect the plaintiffs' identities, alleges the FBI had specific information about Epstein, who died by suicide in 2019 in a New York City federal detention center. He was awaiting trial in New York on federal charges of sex trafficking conspiracy and a count of sex trafficking.

"The FBI has turned its back on survivor victims, and this lawsuit seeks to hold the FBI responsible for failure to act when it absolutely should have," said Jennifer Plotkin, counsel at Merson Law, the firm that filed the complaint. 

Instead of investigators using their own protocols and following up on tips, the FBI was negligent in its Epstein investigation, the complaint alleges, claiming the agency knew he was abusing and sex trafficking young women and children and allowed the abuse to continue unchecked. 

The complaint alleges that tips, reports and complaints about Epstein's activities were provided to the FBI from 1996-2006, but FBI documents show the agency didn't open a case until July 24, 2006. 

Allegations against Epstein over the years involve abuse at his homes in Manhattan, Palm Beach, Florida, and his private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands near St. Thomas, Little St. James.

While he had to register as a sex offender as part of a 2008 plea agreement with federal prosecutors in Florida and pay settlements to victims, victims say that were not told about the agreement — leading to an investigation of the circumstances surrounding it, which was in progress when he died. A U.S. Department of Justice report later found former Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, the former U.S. attorney, exercised "poor judgment" but his decision did not result from "improper favors."

The current complaint alleges the FBI has done nothing to "right the wrong," even after Director Christopher Wray testified during a Dec. 5, 2023, hearing to the Senate Judiciary Committee his team would further the investigation into Epstein and other sex trafficking networks, the complaint said.  

In a statement to CBS News, the FBI said it does not comment on litigation.

These are not the first alleged victims to sue the FBI for negligence in investigating sex trafficking crimes. Thirteen victims of Larry Nassar, the USA Gymnastics coach who sexually assaulted hundreds of female athletes, sued the FBI for $10 million each in 2022. Due to fundamental errors by the FBI, said attorney Jamie White, who represented the victims, Nassar continued a "reign of terror for 17 unnecessary months." Three months later the FBI indicated the agency was open to settlement talks with the victims. The FBI declined to comment on the suit Wednesday.

Allison Elyse Gualtieri contributed reporting.

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