Feb. 21 (UPI) -- A judge ruled Thursday that federal prosecutors broke the law by concealing a plea agreement with billionaire Jeffery Epstein from victims he allegedly sexually abused.
District Judge Kenneth A. Marra ruled that the actions of the prosecutors, including former Miami U.S. attorney and current U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, violated the Crime Victims' Rights Act, which entitles victims to knowledge of significant advances in their cases.
Marra wrote that the government attempted to conceal the existence of the non-prosecution agreement, but "mislead the victims to believe that federal prosecution was still a possibility."
"While the government spent untold hours negotiating the terms and implications of the [non-prosecution agreement] with Epstein's attorneys, scant information was shared with victims," Marra wrote. "Instead, the victims were told to be 'patient' while the investigation proceeded."
He added that the government "cannot be misleading" when giving information to victims about their cases.
Marra's ruling also stated the government didn't allow the victims to affect "prosecutorial decisions" because they were not accurately informed of the details of the case.
Epstein abruptly settled the civil suit in December, reaching a deal that allowed him to a trial in which his accusers could've testified about his abuse and allowing him to serve a year in jail on two state prostitution charges.
Epstein was accused of sexually abusing more than 30 minor girls between 1999 and 2007. Many of his victims are now in their 20s and 30s.
Marra's ruling did not overturn Epstein's plea deal or issue an order resolving the case, saying he was "not ruling that the decision not to prosecute was improper" but that "under the facts of this case, there was a violation of the victims rights under the CVRA."