- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Potentially explosive sealed records accusing financier Jeffrey Epstein of participating in an underage sex-trafficking ring will be made public, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

In a 27-page decision, a panel of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled a lower federal court erred when sealed the records. The appeals court said the public’s right to access the material overrides privacy concerns.

“Continued sealing of the documents may be justified only with specific, on-the-record findings that sealing is necessary to preserve higher values and only if the sealing order is narrowly tailored to achieve that aim,” the three-judge panel ruled.

But the ruling came with a warning to the public about the “reliability of the court filings” and a caution for the media to “exercise restraint.”

“Materials submitted by parties to a court should be understood for what they are. They do not reflect the court’s own findings,” the judges wrote. “Rather, they are prepared by parties seeking to advance their own interests in an adversarial process.”

Some of the records could be released within weeks, with others following after a judge’s review. The delay gives parties who are pushing to keep the records sealed time to request a hearing before the entire appeals court.

The documents were filed by mystery litigants in the case that charges Epstein with trafficking Virginia Giuffre through a friend named Ghislaine Maxwell. The plaintiffs in the case say Ms. Giuffre was trafficked to some of Epstein’s high-profile friends, including his former lawyer Alan Dershowitz.

Mr. Dershowitz has adamantly denied the claim.

The wealthy Epstein has had friendships with several high-profile individuals, including President Trump, former President Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew.

In 2008, Epstein was accused of luring more than 30 underage girls for sex acts in the United States and overseas. He pleaded guilty to two prostitution charges and served a 13-month sentence in Florida. Epstein was also required to register as a sex offender.

The Epstein case is receiving greater attention this year after The Miami Herald raised questions about his light sentence, which was recommended by then-U.S. Attorney for Southern Florida Alexander Acosta, now the U.S. labor secretary.

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