Faced with criticism on Wednesday for giving a sweetheart deal to accused child rapist Jeffrey Epstein in 2008, former federal prosecutor and current Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta suggested that he might have handled the case differently today, because of changing cultural attitudes on child sex trafficking.
Speaking to MSNBC's Steve Kornacki on "Hardball" Thursday, former Assistant U.S. Attorney Mimi Rocah expressed her outrage at this claim.
"We showed some reactions yesterday from former prosecutors. You're one of them," said Kornacki. "You were not impressed by his performance yesterday. Let me ask you about one argument he seemed to be making, or at least seemed to be suggesting at, was that the cultural shift we’ve seen when it comes to allegations of this nature over the last few years — he seemed to be suggesting, maybe if I understood him, that the case would be handled differently now than he handled it because of that. What did you make of that line of argument he seemed to be venturing down at points there?"
"That was the most offensive of all of his arguments," said Rocah. "I mean, it really truly made me physically ill to hear him saying that. As someone who was a prosecutor back at the time that he was negotiating this plea, I can tell you that no prosecutors, no FBI agents, no one that I worked with or knew of would ever have turned away a case regarding child sex exploitation because of, quote, 'cultural norms.'"
"Yes, our society has evolved on its view of rape and adult victims, but not when it comes to minors," said Rocah forcefully. "No one ever thought it was okay to victim-shame a minor in a sex trafficking case, first of all. And lastly, you know, that isn’t a reason for a prosecutor not to do a case anyway. You base your case on the strength of your evidence, on all sorts of factors, but not whether or not you think people are going to look down upon your victim. So I thought every one of his excuses, and that’s what they sounded like, fell flat. I thought that one was also offensive."