1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

US official Acosta resigns over Epstein affair

July 12, 2019

Donald Trump's Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta has resigned after criticism of a legal deal made years ago that led to financier Jeffrey Epstein only serving 13 months in jail for child sex abuse.

President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media with Secretary of Labor Secretary Alex Acosta on the South Lawn of the White House
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/A. Harnik

US President Donald Trump on Friday announced that his labor secretary, Alexander Acosta, has resigned following pressure over his handling of a high-profile sex abuse case.

Standing next to Trump, Acosta said it was his decision to step down. He said he made the decision because he did not want the case to overshadow his work as labor secretary.

"I called the president this morning and told him that I thought the right thing was to step aside," Acosta said. "My point here today is we have an amazing economy and the focus needs to be on the economy job creation."

Trump called Acosta a "tremendous talent" who had done a "very good job," also saying his resignation would not have been necessary.

"Alex was a great Secretary of Labor and his service is truly appreciated," Trump said in a tweet.

Read more: Child sex abuse at German campsite: How authorities failed the victims

'We proceeded appropriately'

Acosta has been under pressure to resign over a 2008 agreement that saw financier and registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein jailed for 13 months over charges of soliciting sex with a minor. Acosta was working as a public prosecutor at the time.

Critics say his punishment was too lenient in a case that involved the sexual abuse of dozens of underage girls. Acosta had argued that it was the only way to prevent an even lighter sentence, saying he would make the same decision again if faced with the same situation.

"We did what we did because we wanted to see Epstein go to jail," said Acosta. "We believe that we proceeded appropriately."

Earlier this week, federal prosecutors in New York announced new charges against Epstein, who escaped federal charges more than a decade ago under a non-prosecution agreement.

Read more: Is the UK's justice system failing rape victims?

Each evening, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

United States Attorney Jeff Berman speaks at a press conference while Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein awaits a bail hearing at Manhattan Federal Court after being arrested Saturday on sex-trafficking charges
Federal authorities arrested Epstein earlier this week on new sex-trafficking chargesImage: Imago Images/UPI Photo/J. Angelillo

ls/msh (Reuters, AP)