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Florida governor orders state criminal investigation into handling of Jeffrey Epstein case

The governor of Florida has ordered a state criminal probe into the handling of the Jeffrey Epstein case that controversially ended in a generous plea deal, The Miami Herald and The South Florida Sun-Sentinel report.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Tuesday ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to conduct this probe, saying that "Floridians expect and deserve a full and fair investigation." Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw previously opened an investigation into the matter but had been under pressure to request an independent probe, which he subsequently did, reports the South Florida-Sun Sentinel.

Under the 2008 agreement, Epstein pleaded guilty to state prostitution charges but only ended up serving 13 months in jail over his alleged sexual abuse of minors, and under a work release, he was able to leave during the day; this work release will reportedly be a focus of the new probe.

The FBI earlier this year hit Epstein with federal sex trafficking charges and said that he sexually abused dozens of underage girls; he has pleaded not guilty. These new charges sparked renewed outrage over the earlier non-prosecution agreement, which was kept secret from Epstein's accusers while it was being negotiated, and resulted in former Labor Secretary Alex Acosta's resignation from the Trump administration.