Justice Department probes possible 'professional misconduct' in prosecution of wealthy sex offender Jeffrey Epstein

Key Points
  • The Justice Department has opened an investigation into its handling of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein's prosecution, GOP Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said Wednesday.
  • The probe came after Sasse raised "significant concerns" that DOJ attorneys "may have committed professional misconduct" in Epstein's case.
Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein in Cambridge, MA in 2004. Epstein is connected with several prominent people including politicians, actors and academics.
Rick Friedman | Corbis News | Getty Images

The Justice Department has opened an investigation into possible "professional misconduct" in the agency's handling of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein's prosecution, which at one point was overseen by current Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta.

The probe by the department's Office of Professional Responsibility comes in response to multiple letters sent by Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb.

"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 in a press release announcing the probe.

Sasse had raised "significant concerns" that the department's prosecutors "may have committed professional misconduct in a criminal matter involving" Epstein, according to a letter to Sasse from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd.

"OPR will thoroughly investigate the allegations of misconduct that have been raised and, consistent with its practice, will share its results with you at the conclusion of its investigation as appropriate," Boyd told Sasse in the letter.

Sasse's requests were spurred by an in-depth investigation of Epstein — an eccentric multimillionaire who claimed friends in politics, including Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump — published by the Miami Herald in November.

Epstein had been investigated in the early 2000s on suspicion of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls at his Palm Beach, Florida, mansion. The Herald's report found that Acosta, then a U.S. attorney for Miami, struck a plea deal in 2007 that concealed many of Epstein's alleged crimes.

Federal prosecutors agreed not to pursue his case. Epstein pleaded guilty to a state charge of soliciting prostitution from underage girls.

Sasse is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on oversight, agency action, federal rights and federal courts.