AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
We're going to bring in now Jack Scarola. He's a Florida lawyer, who, for more than a decade, has been involved in the cases of seven women who say they are victims of Jeffrey Epstein.
Welcome to the program.
JACK SCAROLA: Thank you very much.
CORNISH: To begin, what can you tell us about your clients and some of the allegations against Jeffrey Epstein?
SCAROLA: I can tell you that our clients have stories that are typical of the victimization of dozens of others by Jeffrey Epstein. Ages ranged from 13 years of age to 17 and 18 - most of them at the younger end of that range.
CORNISH: People are looking back now at this non-prosecution agreement that was agreed to by now-Labor Secretary Alex Acosta when he was the U.S. attorney in Miami. At the time, were any of your clients affected by that case legally or personally?
SCAROLA: Very much so. Each of these individuals had very clearly defined rights under federal law to be kept informed with regard to any negotiations that related to the disposition of criminal charges against Epstein. And those rights were very clearly violated. And it's extremely disturbing because as it turns out, the federal government, through now-Secretary Acosta, entered into what amounts to a conspiracy to violate federal law.
CORNISH: So when this non-prosecution agreement went forward - I mean, you're calling this a conspiracy. Can you talk about the aspects of it that were troubling?
SCAROLA: There was a 53-page federal indictment that had been prepared against Jeffrey Epstein in March of 2007. In less than three months' time, following intense negotiations, the federal government's position changed from prosecuting Epstein and his co-conspirators to entering into an agreement to conceal the terms of a plea bargain and to mislead the victims into believing that there was still going to be a federal prosecution of Jeffrey Epstein.
CORNISH: What was it like for you to tell them what had happened?
SCAROLA: It was very disturbing. It was very disturbing because I have devoted my life to both the criminal and civil justice system. I have a strong belief in the integrity of the system. And to have to go to individuals who had been so grossly abused and tell them that that abuse had been compounded by government agents was tough. It was tough to try to explain to these folks that the system in which we had placed our confidence had betrayed them in ways that compounded the injury that they had suffered at the hands of Jeffrey Epstein.
CORNISH: In the years after the non-prosecution agreement, did you perceive that your clients were still afraid of Jeffrey Epstein?
SCAROLA: Oh, many of them still are very afraid of Jeffrey Epstein. They went through a very difficult emotional time during the prosecution of their civil claims. They were subjected to extremely abusive investigative tactics. They were intimidated in every way that Epstein was able to attempt to intimidate them. And fortunately, many of them stood up to that intimidation.
CORNISH: What do you mean? That - was he threatening families or, like, what - how - what form did the intimidation take?
SCAROLA: Well, the intimidation took a variety of forms. These were kids who were subjected to extremely strenuous interrogation during the litigation process. They were being investigated outside of the context of the civil lawsuit. They were being followed. Their friends were being followed. Friends and acquaintances were being interviewed by private investigators. There was no aspect of their lives that this individual with virtually limited resources was not attempting to take advantage of in order to escape responsibility for what he was doing.
CORNISH: Jack Scarola, thank you so much for speaking with us.
SCAROLA: You are quite welcome. And thank you for the time and attention that you are focusing on these important matters. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.