Judge in Jeffrey Epstein grand jury case has ties to those with a stake in outcome

The Palm Beach judge who has thus far refused to release grand jury records in the Jeffrey Epstein case has both professional and family ties to three of the politicians who have a stake in keeping those records secret, the Miami Herald has learned.

Krista Marx, the Palm Beach chief judge who also heads a panel that polices judicial conduct, has potential conflicts of interest involving three prominent players embroiled in the Epstein sex-trafficking saga: State Attorney Dave Aronberg, who has been sued by the Palm Beach Post to release the grand jury records; Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, whose department’s favored treatment of Epstein while he was in the Palm Beach County jail is part of an ongoing state criminal investigation; and ex-State Attorney Barry Krischer, part of the same investigation in connection with his decision not to prosecute Epstein on child-sex charges.

Special prosecutors appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis went to court in January to unseal records of Krischer’s secret 2006 state grand jury presentment in the case.

Prosecutors wanted to examine whether Krischer’s office told the panel the full scope of Epstein’s crimes, or whether state prosecutors kept key evidence from the grand jury. The grand jury returned a minor charge of solicitation of prostitution against Epstein, who later managed to negotiate a lenient plea deal, resulting in him serving 13 months in the Palm Beach County Jail, much of at his lavish office in West Palm Beach, thanks to generous work-release provisions.

Local news has never been more important

Last year, following a series of stories in the Miami Herald detailing the machinations behind Epstein’s plea deal, DeSantis ordered a state criminal probe focusing on Krischer’s decision not to prosecute and on Bradshaw’s role in helping Epstein maintain an opulent lifestyle — including having sex with women — while subject to sheriff’s custody on sex charges.

But Marx in January rejected the criminal prosecutors’ effort to unseal the grand jury records, calling it a “fishing expedition.’’ Then on Wednesday, she rebuffed a similar request by attorneys representing the Post, who sued Aronberg, and the county clerk, Sharon Bock, for release of the records.

Duration 1:51

Victims of Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse voice their outrage in court

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Marx was dismissive of the Post’s lawsuit against Aronberg, who has denied he has custody of the grand jury records; and Bock, who has custody of the records but won’t release them without a court order.

Marx, however, did not disclose from the bench that Krischer was her former boss, that her daughter works for Aronberg as an assistant state attorney and that her son works for Bradshaw as a sheriff’s deputy.

Marx’s husband, Palm Beach County Judge Joe Marx, has a disclosure on his county web page stating he would recuse himself from any cases that involve his two stepchildren. Krista Marx’s county web page does not have such a disclosure.

Marx, a six-term elected judge, chairs Florida’s Judicial Qualifications Commission, the state agency that polices judges and handles complaints filed against judges.

The Miami Herald reached Krista Marx on her cell phone late Friday. She instructed a reporter to send her questions via text.

Shortly after, she sent the following:

“A judge is prohibited from commenting on open cases. It is a clear rule of the judicial canons. See cnn 3 (B) 9.”

Krischer did not respond to a request for comment.

Neither the attorney for the Palm Beach Post nor the criminal prosecutor handling the state probe were aware of Marx’s work for Krischer.

The attorneys would not comment on the record, but confirmed they didn’t know that Marx, a six-term elected judge, had worked as an assistant state attorney for Krischer from 1992 to 1998.

In 2012, Marx weighed running for state attorney herself, then decided against it after supporters of Aronberg, the only other candidate, indicated they would file an ethics complaint against her and also run a candidate against her husband, who was up for re-election, the Post reported at the time. Judges in Palm Beach County rarely face opposition and such reelection contests, when they do occur, are costly and time consuming.

Despite his denials, Aronberg, who won that year and has been state attorney ever since, had a “direct, personal role’’ in the events that led Marx to drop her bid, the Post found in 2012.

The Miami Herald could not reach Aronberg for comment.

The Post investigation showed that Aronberg’s campaign manager prepared a five-point public records request in an effort to obtain information detrimental to Marx. Aronberg emailed the request himself to an associate, the paper found. The issue involved soliciting political support from practicing attorneys, the Post said.

BY

The records request was never filed, but Aronberg’s campaign manager acknowledged that he drafted the request to obtain information on Marx because she was planning to challenge Aronberg. Both the campaign manager and Aronberg, however, denied knowing anything about what the Post described as a “threat” to damage Krista Marx’s campaign.

At the time, Marx acknowledged that she was warned by political operatives that several lawyers were preparing to file an ethics complaint against her for soliciting political support from them.

“A complaint would be filed with the Judicial Qualifications Commission and could entail an investigation and hearing that Marx supporters say would have stained her reputation, even if she were exonerated,’’ the Post wrote.

Aronberg, a former member of the Florida Senate and a regular commentator on MSNBC, has said he doesn’t have custody of the 2006 grand jury records. He is a close ally of Krischer, who served on Aronberg’s transitional committee and has done some unspecified “volunteer work’’ in Aronberg’s office, the Post has reported.

A spokesman for Aronberg said that Krischer is not an assistant state attorney in his office. But when asked to clarify what role, if any, Krischer has had during Aronberg’s tenure as state attorney, the spokesman did not respond.

Krischer is also a paid “volunteer’’ in Bradshaw’s sheriff’s department. Public records show he has earned over $112,000 in that capacity.

The original handling of the Epstein case a decade ago stands as a flagrant example of the corrosive effects of power, wealth and privilege on the criminal justice system. Epstein avoided prison despite dozens of young women and girls telling authorities he sexually abused them.

During Epstein’s short stint in the county jail, the multimillionaire was given expansive work-release privileges that are rarely, if ever, afforded to sex offenders in Florida. Bradshaw, one of the most powerful figures in Palm Beach politics, has denied he had a direct role in Epstein’s treatment.

The fight over the grand jury records — with its backdrop of ties between keys players — illustrates the peculiar nature of Florida politics, where behind-the-scenes power brokers and consultants, fueled by money, can decide who runs for office, which incumbents face challengers and which do not, and who is rewarded with political appointments and jobs.

“The system is one that the good ‘ol boys have built for 20 or 30 years. And now, it’s in jeopardy over this case,’’ said Jose Lambiet, a former writer for the Post who covered gossip and politics, including the Epstein scandal, for many years. He also wrote a column for the Miami Herald and is now a private investigator.

“Marx needs to recuse herself and anything that is done in the Epstein case should be in a different county.’’

How to deal with gaslighting | Ariel Leve

Gaslighting is an emotionally abusive tactic that makes the victim question their own sanity and perception of reality. In this important talk, Ariel Leve shares some of the life-saving strategies she adopted as a child to survive her mother’s gaslighting.
TEDArchive presents previously unpublished talks from TED conferences.
Enjoy this unedited talk by Ariel Leve.

Filmed at TEDNYC Rebirth 2017.

 

What Did Pope Francis Know?

The Catholic Church needs leaders who can purge corruption even among their own theological allies. The pope is failing that test.

During the Catholic Church’s synod on the family in Rome in 2015, a rough-and-tumble affair in which Pope Francis pushed the assembled bishops to liberalize Catholic teaching on remarriage and divorce, one of the attendees, by the pope’s own invitation, was the retired Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels.

Danneels was a natural pick in one sense: One of the church’s prominent liberals, he had been part of a circle that supported Jorge Bergoglio in the run-up to his election as Francis, and in a synodal fight with conservative bishops, the pope needed all the allies he could get.

.. In another sense, though, Danneels was a wildly inappropriate choice, because at the conclusion of his career he was caught on tape trying to persuade a young victim of sex abuse not to go public with allegations against the victim’s uncle, Bishop Roger Vangheluwe of Bruges, Belgium.

..  hauling a cover-up artist out of retirement for a synod on the family was a statement that ideological loyalties mattered more to him than personal misconduct: Sex abuse might be bad, but what really mattered was being on the correct side of the Catholic civil war.

.. after years of failed American attempts to get Rome to take action, Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, placed the already retired McCarrick under some form of sanctions — moving him out of his residence, restricting contact with seminarians, limiting public appearances. It further claims that despite being told that McCarrick was a sexual predator, Francis removed those sanctions, raised McCarrick’s profile and relied on him for advice about major appointments.

.. noting that McCarrick appeared at many events, including with Benedict himself, in the period when he was supposedly under sanctions.

..  given the distracted and ineffectual way that the last pope ran the church, it’s very easy to imagine a distracted and ineffectual attempt to restrict McCarrick being subverted and ignored by the cardinal and his allies in the hierarchy.

.. In which case it’s also easy to imagine a scenario in which Francis didn’t technically “lift” those sanctions so much as acted in ignorance of them, or of their seriousness. He might have been given some knowledge, by Viganò and others, of the allegations against McCarrick but either assumed they couldn’t be that bad (at this point the cardinal mostly stood accused of imposing himself on seminarians, not teenage minors) or else chose to believe a denial from the accused cardinal himself. Why? In part because of perceived self-interest: Francis needed allies, McCarrick was sympathetic to the pope’s planned liberalizing push, and the pope wanted his help reshaping the ranks of American bishops.

.. In this scenario Francis would be guilty of self-deception and incuriosity but not as nakedly culpable as Viganò implies. And if it’s easy to imagine this scenario because of the Danneels example, it’s also easy to imagine because that’s how things have proceeded consistently in the church since the sex abuse scandals broke: If a given predator or enabler is “on side” for either conservatives or liberals, he will find defenders and protectors for as long as events and revelations permit.

  • That’s a major reason John Paul II refused to investigate Father Marcel Maciel, the wicked founder of the Legionaries of Christ — because the Legionaries were conservative, and apparently a great success, and that was all that mattered.
  • It’s why many conservative Catholics unwisely defended John Paul II-appointed prelates like Boston’s Bernard Law in the early 2000s.
  • It’s why a notorious traditionalist priest, Father Carlos Urrutigoity, could find a welcome from conservative bishops in Pennsylvania and then Paraguay, despite a trail of abuse allegations.

.. Now it’s why certain organs and apostles of liberal Catholicism are running interference for McCarrick’s protectors — because Francis is their pope, the liberalizer they yearned for all through the John Paul and Benedict years, and all’s fair in the Catholic civil war.

.. But the inevitable, even providential irony is that this sort of team thinking never leads to theological victory, but only to exposure, shame, disaster. Indeed, the lesson of these bitter decades is that any faction hoping to lead Roman Catholicism out of crisis should begin with purges within its own ranks, with intolerance for any hint of corruption.

.. Francis, alas for everyone, did the opposite. Elected by cardinals eager for a cleanup at the Vatican, he wanted to be a theological change agent instead — which led him to tolerate the corrupt Roman old guard (whose names fill Viganò’s letter) and to rehabilitate liberal figures like Danneels, McCarrick and Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga of Honduras (a dubious figure with a predator among his underlings and a scandal at his seminary) who deserved the sidelines if not a penitent’s cell.

..  purge the corruption he has tolerated and to supply Catholicism with what it has lacked these many years: a leader willing to be zealous and uncompromising against what Benedict called the “filth” in the church, no matter how many heads must roll on his own side of the Catholic civil war.

We Have a Crisis of Democracy, Not Manners

protesters blasted a recording of sobbing migrant kids outside the home of Kirstjen Nielsen, Trump’s secretary of homeland security.

.. A Washington Post editorial urged the protesters to think about the precedent they are setting. “How hard is it to imagine, for example, people who strongly believe that abortion is murder deciding that judges or other officials who protect abortion rights should not be able to live peaceably with their families?” it asked.

.. I’m somewhat agnostic on the question of whether publicly rebuking Trump collaborators is tactically smart. It stokes their own sense of victimization, which they feed on. It may alienate some persuadable voters, though this is just a guess.

.. I don’t blame staff members at the Virginia restaurant, the Red Hen, for not wanting to help Sanders unwind after a hard week of lying to the public about mass child abuse. Particularly when Sanders’s own administration is fighting to let private businesses discriminate against gay people, who, unlike mendacious press secretaries, are a protected class under many civil rights laws.

.. Whether or not you think public shaming should be happening, it’s important to understand why it’s happening. It’s less a result of a breakdown in civility than a breakdown of democracy.

.. Though it’s tiresome to repeat it, Donald Trump eked out his minority victory with help from a hostile foreign power. He has ruled exclusively for his vengeful supporters, who love the way he terrifies, outrages and humiliates their fellow citizens. Trump installed the right-wing Neil Gorsuch in the Supreme Court seat that Republicans stole from Barack Obama. Gorsuch, in turn, has been the fifth vote in decisions on voter roll purges and, on Monday, racial gerrymandering that will further entrench minority rule.

.. A great many of these citizens are working tirelessly to take at least one house of Congress in the midterms — which will require substantially more than 50 percent of total votes, given structural Republican advantages — so that the country’s anti-Trump majority will have some voice in the federal government.

.. The civility police might point out that many conservatives hated Obama just as much, but that only demonstrates the limits of content-neutral analysis.

.. The right’s revulsion against a black president targeted by birther conspiracy theories is not the same as the left’s revulsion against a racist president who spread birther conspiracy theories.

.. liberals have not taken to marching around in public with assault weapons and threatening civil war. I know of no left-wing publication that has followed the example of the right-wing Federalist and run quasi-pornographic fantasies about murdering political enemies. (“Close your eyes and imagine holding someone’s scalp in your hands,” began a recent Federalist article.)

.. Unlike Trump, no Democratic politician I’m aware of has urged his or her followers to beat up opposing demonstrators.

.. Liberals are using their cultural power against the right because it’s the only power they have left

.. there’s an abusive sort of victim-blaming in demanding that progressives single-handedly uphold civility, lest the right become even more uncivil in response.

.. As long as our rulers wage war on cosmopolitan culture, they shouldn’t feel entitled to its fruits. If they don’t want to hear from the angry citizens they’re supposed to serve, let them eat at Trump Grill.