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BY KATHRYN BERG

July 9, 2019


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Jeffrey Epstein's 71st Street mansion, where he preyed on underage girls.
From the Washington Post: Federal prosecutors on Monday charged financier Jeffrey Epstein with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy, raising questions about why federal prosecutors in Miami, led by now-Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, cut Epstein a secret sweetheart deal that shielded him from federal prosecution in 2008.
Women are raped in Zion, virgins in the towns of Judah . . . .
Why have you forgotten us completely? Why have you forsaken us these many days?
- Lamentations 5:11 and 20
For the young victims of Jeffrey Epstein and his powerful friends, justice has been a long time coming. The stories turn your stomach. Epstein preyed on underage girls, lured to his mansion with promises of cash for “massages,” then forced into sex acts, raped, and coerced into recruiting other girls. The victims allege that they were trafficked across the world to Epstein’s various properties, where he “shared” them with his friends. 

Though all the men involved have not been publicly identified, one thing is clear - Epstein’s powerful friends reads like a list from Who’s Who - Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Alan Dershowitz, and scores more. In 2002, Trump told New York magazine,“I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy...He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”

The new indictment follows investigative reporting by the Miami Herald into how the serial pedophile initially received a slap on the wrist, despite sexually assaulting and trafficking dozens of underage girls. A federal judge has ruled that the 2008 secret plea agreement violated federal law and the rights of the victims, who were kept in the dark about its details. Though that deal is still being investigated, it appears that the government that was sworn to protect girls instead colluded in silencing them and protecting their predators from prosecution. Acosta’s role is particularly disturbing because, as Secretary of Labor, he oversees the federal agency that provides oversight of the country’s labor laws, including human trafficking. Meanwhile, Attorney General Barr has recused himself, as his former law firm represented Epstein. 

Vulnerable girls suffering at the hands of predatory men is an ancient evil, and, to me at least, the Bible provides little solace. Though metaphorical, the degradation of women in Lamentations reinforces an excuse Acosta used to justify his secret deal: These victims aren’t innocent; it’s their fault. The labels on the CDs found in Epstein’s mansion - “Misc nudes 1” and “Girl pics nude” - are reminiscent of Lamentations 5 and the cry of Lamentations is theirs: Why have you forgotten us completely? Why have you forsaken us these many days? 

As a survivor of childhood sexual assault, I know, as do these “Misc. Girls,” that the suffering continues long past the predation. Speaking about evil is a form of faith, and speaking truth to power brings its own blessing. I pray that, finally, these survivors can begin to claim that blessing for themselves.
Get involved with one of the many organizations working to combat sex trafficking. Call or write the White House (202-456-1111) and your Congressperson and demand that Alex Acosta resign.
May the source of strength help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing. Bless those in need of healing with a full recovery, the renewal of body, the renewal of spirit.

Amen.

From Mi Sheberakh by Debbie Friedman
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