Jeffrey Epstein
© Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero/The Daily Beast/Getty
Eleven years after billionaire Jeffrey Epstein received what amounted to a country-club jail sentence for allegedly molesting dozens of girls in Florida, his victims could be closer to justice-with a possible future federal prosecution beyond Palm Beach.

In 2007, the disgraced financier signed a secret deal with the U.S. Attorney's Office to evade a series of charges that could have sent him to prison for life. The agreement, brokered under former federal prosecutor and current Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, allowed Epstein to plead guilty to a pair of minor state charges.

Epstein served 13 months of his 18-month sentence in a private wing of a county stockade. And, as the Miami Herald reported, he spent most of this time on "work release" at a comfortable office, for up to 12 hours a day, six days a week.

But in February of this year, a federal judge ruled the non-prosecution agreement (NPA), which was concealed from the victims and their counsel, violated the law, specifically the Crime Victims' Rights Act. Now the feds are contacting victims to discuss possible remedies.

During these meetings, the government is reportedly asking one question in particular: Did Epstein's abuse ever cross state lines?

Spencer Kuvin, who represented three of Epstein's victims, including the 14-year-old girl who first tipped off Palm Beach police to the hedge-funder's alleged abuse of teenagers, told The Daily Beast that one of his clients was happy to finally get a chance to speak with prosecutors- but has long been frustrated that justice was never served.

According to Kuvin, the assistant U.S. Attorney he met with appeared to examine two issues: What do Epstein's victims want the government to do? And if an investigation was reopened, would Epstein's alleged assaults rise to the level of federal crimes?

"I think they're asking it, because as a federal prosecutor you want to know whether this is a potential federal crime or state crime," Kuvin said. "If they determined that it did [cross state lines], they have potential for prosecuting it."

Kuvin said the assistant prosecutor raised this question before one of his clients disclosed her preferred remedies, of which federal charges are the priority.

If Epstein can't be charged, Kuvin added, the woman wants the government to open the record, making public the entire federal case file, including external communications and internal discussions within the prosecutor's office on Epstein.

"And then lastly, I know my client said, 'I want Acosta to step down.'"

As for his other clients, the woman who was 14 when Epstein allegedly abused her didn't wish to speak to prosecutors, Kuvin said, while a third victim couldn't be found. "The overall theme is... the wealthy have a completely different standard under the justice system," Kuvin said of Epstein's sweetheart deal. "I can think of no better example of the wealthy buying justice than his."

Epstein's legal team declined to comment. Two of his lawyers told The Daily Beast they would refrain from speaking about the victims' proposals until after they filed their own pleadings in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, two victims filed court papers on May 23 outlining their requested remedies, which include a public hearing with mandatory attendance by Acosta and Epstein. Those women, identified as Jane Does 1 and 2, filed a lawsuit against the government in 2008 that only recently resulted in U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra's ruling that the NPA was illegal.

The women didn't equivocate on their number-one priority: revoking the immunity provisions that ultimately protected the 66-year-old financier and his co-conspirators-who allegedly recruited and even abused the victims themselves-from federal charges.
Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell
© Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan/Getty
Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell attend de Grisogono Sponsors The 2005 Wall Street Concert Series Benefitting Wall Street Rising, with a Performance by Rod Stewart at Cipriani Wall Street on March 15, 2005 in New York City.
"Jane Doe 1 and 2's proposed remedies here do not include a 'new trial'-no trial has ever been held. Likewise, they do not ask to 're-open' a plea, much less a sentence," the court filing stated. "Epstein never pled guilty to any crime in federal court (and his plea in state court was not to charges involving them, although this fact remains uncertain).

"Instead, the victims seek (among other remedies) the invalidation of an illegal non-prosecution agreement so that they can confer with the Government about an appropriate prosecution of the crimes Epstein committed against them."

"Because his scheme to conceal how he was resolving the case failed, it is now proper that he suffer the consequences," the victims' pleading added.

Jack Scarola, an attorney representing the Jane Does, said prosecutors have made no request to speak directly with his clients, likely because his legal team already filed court papers sketching out remedies on behalf of the women.

In order for the feds to charge Epstein for his alleged sex crimes, Scarola said, the court would need to rescind the NPA. The federal government would also need to defeat Epstein's challenges to a prosecution.

"The intense focus of attention on these matters clearly exerts substantial pressure in favor of an Epstein prosecution," Scarola told The Daily Beast.

"I strongly believe that we are finally approaching a point where Jeffrey Epstein will face potential criminal prosecution," he added.

Sexual abuse of minors does not have a statute of limitations, and there is "substantial evidence" that would support holding Epstein criminally liable, Scarola said.

"Based upon the pattern of criminal activity at a very intense level," Scarola said, "it's highly unlikely that there is anywhere Jeffrey Epstein went that he did not leave victims in his wake."

Authorities discovered that Epstein allegedly abused more than 40 underage girls in Palm Beach from about 1999 to 2007, though the total number of victims is likely in the hundreds, according to the accusers and their attorneys. The girls were paid $200 to $300, and sometimes as much as $1,000, for "massage" sessions that allegedly turned into molestation and even rape. Last year, the Miami Herald identified 80 women who say they were victimized by the billionaire. And at least one of Epstein's accusers, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, says she traveled internationally to have sex with Epstein and his friends before she was 18 years old.

Back when the U.S. Attorney's Office was circling Epstein, they could have charged him with sex trafficking of children or by force, fraud or coercion (18 U.S. Code § 1591); transportation in interstate commerce for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct (18 U.S.C. § 2423); and using a means of interstate commerce to coerce or entice a minor to engage in illicit sexual activity (18 U.S.C. § 2422), according to multiple civil court pleadings filed by victims.

One Jane Doe lawsuit filed in 2009 additionally accused Epstein of the production of child pornography (18 U.S.C. § 2251). Epstein "displayed photographs of nude underage girls throughout his homes in New York City, Palm Beach, Santa Fe, and the U.S. Virgin Islands," stated the complaint filed by Jane Doe 101, who believed some images were snapped via two hidden cameras that cops discovered inside Epstein's Palm Beach lair.

Victims say in previous court filings that if the government had conferred with them back then, they would have pushed for Epstein and his co-conspirators to face similar federal charges.

Months before Epstein's lenient plea deal, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida had drafted a 53-page indictment against him for a series of sex offenses, as well as an 82-page prosecution memorandum.

Yet, starting in the summer of 2007, Epstein's lawyers waged a war to discredit the victims and supplied prosecutors with dossiers on the girls' social media accounts, which supposedly showed drug and alcohol use. The defense team also, as Acosta put it in one 2011 letter, "investigated individual prosecutors and their families, looking for personal peccadilloes that may provide a basis for disqualification."

The communications between Epstein's camp and the government weren't known to the victims, who believed a criminal probe was ongoing.

In August of that year, victims "provided details to federal agents of the abuse that they endured at the hands of Epstein and his co-conspirators," Janes Does 1 and 2 noted in a motion for summary judgment, filed in 2016 as part of their lawsuit against the feds.

"In September 2007, without conferring with any of the victims, the Government and Epstein shifted gears and began working together to concoct a criminal charge for Epstein to plea to other than his sexual abuse of minors," the document states.

Prosecutors collaborated with Epstein's lawyers to downgrade the charges to state court, and under the agreement, signed on Sept. 24, 2007, the hedge-funder waived his right to contest damages if victims filed lawsuits against him.

On June 30, 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty to two state charges: solicitation of prostitution and procurement of minors for prostitution. ("Incredibly, the offense to which Epstein and the Government ultimately agreed, labeled the minor victims 'prostitutes,'" the motion noted.)

He also had to a register as a sex offender in New York, Florida, and the Virgin Islands, which he lists as his permanent address. He is not required to register in New Mexico, where he owns the 10,000-acre Zorro Ranch, because the victim he pleaded guilty to assaulting in Florida state court wasn't under 16.

The women who allegedly helped Epstein recruit his young victims weren't charged criminally at all. The secret NPA granted immunity to "potential co-conspirators of Epstein, including but not limited to Sarah Kellen, Adriana Ross, Lesley Groff, or Nadia Marcinkova."

Those women could not be reached by The Daily Beast.

Sarah Kellen, who is married to a NASCAR driver and now called Sarah Vickers, was Epstein's personal assistant. She was accused of booking the "massages," calling the girls when Epstein flew into town, and allegedly escorting teen girls in and out of his upstairs room, after she lined up the oils on his massage table.

Adriana Ross, a former model from Poland who went by Adriana Mucinska, allegedly helped facilitate Epstein's abuse, too. According to flight logs, she flew on his private jet alongside Bill Clinton. Records show she also lived at one East 66th Street building in Manhattan where Epstein was known to house models.

Lesley Groff was described in one accuser's lawsuit as the schedule and travel coordinator who helped supply Epstein with young women. One 2005 Chicago Tribune story about executive-assistant pay described Groff as one of three female assistants Epstein paid $200,000 per year. "They are an extension of my brain. Their intuition is something that I don't have," Epstein told the Tribune.

Nadia Marcinkova was accused of having sex with the minor victims while Epstein watched. According to police, Epstein told one victim Marcinkova was his "sex slave" and that he'd purchased her from her family in Yugoslavia. She now runs an aviation company and describes herself as a fashion model turned jet pilot on social media.
Jeffrey Epstein Professor Alan Dershowitz
© Rick Friedman/Corbis/Getty
Jeffrey Epstein in conversation with Professor Alan Dershowitz.
The co-conspirators are mentioned in the Jane Does' court filing on proposed remedies, which include "rescission of the NPA's immunity provisions."

"But that remedy alone is insufficient to provide full justice in this case. Doing so only allows them to seek prosecution of Epstein and his co-conspirators some 11 years after the prosecutors' decision was made," the court filing continues. "Given the passage of time, it will no doubt be more difficult to persuade prosecutors to move forward with a prosecution."

As a result, the victims also want an apology from the U.S. Attorney's Office, a chance to meet personally with Acosta and the current federal prosecutor, and information about the case including grand jury materials. "Given the 12 years of uncertainty and questions that the Government's illegal concealment has caused, the remedy is release of this information," the victims' court filing states.

For years after the plea deal, other women have come forward in lawsuits and the press accusing Epstein of sexually abusing them-and even loaning them out to his famous friends-while seemingly little was done to charge or investigate him.

Many of these women have claimed that Epstein and his powerful friends abused them in New York, the Virgin Islands, and New Mexico-districts where he has never, to public knowledge, faced investigations or prosecution.

Epstein's flight logs revealed he often traveled with scores of young women, including his co-conspirators, and his friend and lawyer, the Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz. (Several bold-faced names, including Bill Clinton, Kevin Spacey, Naomi Campbell and onetime Harvard president Larry Summers, were also treated to jaunts on Epstein's private jet.)

Giuffre claims Epstein kept her as a "sex slave" and forced her to have sex with his pals, including Britain's Prince Andrew and Dershowitz, who helped negotiate Epstein's controversial NPA. She said Epstein flew her on his plane in order to abuse her at his mansions in Florida, New Mexico, New York and the Virgin Islands, and his residence in Paris, France. She was also allegedly forced into sex with Prince Andrew in London. (Dershowitz and Prince Andrew have both denied her claims.)

"Epstein and his friends sexually and physically abused many other girls. They did this in many places around the world," Giuffre said in one 2015 declaration filed in the CVRA case, Jane Does #1 and #2 v. United States. "I personally observed this. There are also many people who could confirm what I am saying. I hope that these people will come forward and tell the truth."

Epstein appeared to deny Giuffre's claims to some extent.

After her allegations about Dershowitz and Prince Andrew made international headlines, a lawyer for Epstein told NBC News: "These are stale, rehashed allegations that lawyers are now attempting to repackage and spice up by adding the names of prominent people. The allegations, which are outlandish on their face and discredited by the evidence, were made in a civil case in which Mr. Epstein is not a party."

In 2015, Giuffre filed a now-settled defamation suit against Epstein's alleged madam, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, whom she accused of recruiting her into Epstein's sex ring in 1998, when she was 15 and working at Mar-a-Lago for the summer. (For her part, Maxwell has vehemently denied the allegations.)

The Miami Herald is asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to release all sealed and redacted court records in that case. During oral arguments in March, an attorney for Giuffre vowed the records "will show that Epstein and Maxwell were trafficking girls to the benefit of his friends, including Mr. Dershowitz."

Dershowitz himself, along with far-right activist Michael Cernovich, joined the call for the three-judge panel to unseal certain documents, while a phalanx of news outlets and First Amendment groups filed a brief in support of the Herald.

Soon after the hearing, two mystery parties identified only as "J. Doe" and "John Doe" filed court papers to support Maxwell's bid to keep the records secret.

Then, in April, Giuffre filed a defamation suit against Dershowitz in Manhattan federal court, claiming the prominent lawyer "was also a participant in sex trafficking, including as one of the men to whom Epstein lent out [Giuffre] for sex."

According to Giuffre's lawsuit, Dershowitz routinely traveled with Epstein, including on his private jet, and stayed overnight at his Palm Beach and Manhattan homes while "the victims of Epstein's sex trafficking were there."

"During the time period that Roberts was being trafficked by Epstein she was forced to have sex with Alan Dershowitz," the complaint alleges. "Roberts was forced to engage in sexual acts with Dershowitz in, among other locations, Epstein's mansion" on the Upper East Side.

She cited Dershowitz's statements following the Miami Herald's three-part series, "Perversion of Justice," which ignited a public outcry and a Department of Justice probe over Epstein's sweetheart deal and Acosta's role in it. "I never met Roberts; I never had sex with her; she simply made up the entire story for money," Dershowitz wrote in a letter to the Herald.

The complaint also details Epstein's alleged abuse in New York and other states-and introduced disturbing allegations from a new accuser.

As part of Giuffre's case, a Kentucky woman named Maria Farmer came forward with claims that Epstein abused her and her underage sister-incidents that allegedly took place in New York, Ohio and New Mexico.

Farmer said she met Epstein and Maxwell in 1995, while living as an artist and graduate student in New York. The duo appeared at one of her art shows, according to a new affidavit, and she sold Epstein one of her works for $6,000. The following year, Epstein called Farmer with a job offer, the document states.

While Epstein told her the gig involved helping him acquire art, Farmer said that she instead ended up manning the front door of his East 71st Street townhouse and keeping records of visitors to the residence. Some of those visitors, the affidavit states, appeared to be school-age girls in school uniforms.

"The girls would come into the NY mansion and then would be escorted upstairs," Farmer stated in the court filing. "When I asked Maxwell why these young girls were coming over to the house so often she said that the girls are interviewing for modeling positions."

Farmer claimed to witness Dershowitz visit Epstein's New York home and head upstairs where underage girls were present.

She said Epstein and Maxwell preyed on her 15-year-old sister and (similar to Giuffre's claims) sent her to massage school in Thailand. When Epstein treated Farmer and her sibling to a movie in New York, he "held my younger sister's hand and was rubbing her in a sexual manner without my knowledge," Farmer claimed.

During the summer of 1996, Epstein and Maxwell flew Farmer's sister to Epstein's ranch in New Mexico and sexually abused her on a massage table, the affidavit alleges.

Around the same time period, Farmer claims Epstein and Maxwell sexually assaulted her while she stayed at the Ohio mansion of Epstein's only known client, Limited Brands chairman and Victoria's Secret mogul Leslie Wexner, to work on a special art project.

"They asked me to come into a bedroom with them and then proceeded to sexually assault me against my will," Farmer stated in the filing. "I fled the room and called the sheriff's office but did not get any response."

Wexner's security team refused to let Farmer leave, she claims, and her father drove from Kentucky to get her. "I was held against my will for approximately 12 hours until I was ultimately allowed to leave with my father," Farmer stated. "Upon my return to New York, I went to the New York Sixth Precinct police department for help and they counseled me to contact the FBI to make a report about the assault in Ohio."

Farmer said she called the FBI, but the agency didn't appear to pursue a case.

Wexner did not return messages left by The Daily Beast. Neither Epstein nor Maxwell has commented on the new allegations, and their attorneys didn't respond to requests for comment on the claims.

In response to Farmer's claims, Dershowitz told The Daily Beast: "Maria Farmer stopped working for Epstein before I ever met Epstein. It's a totally perjured affidavit. It's all totally made up. For her lawyers to submit these obviously perjured affidavits raises serious questions about their role in this case."

Alan Dershowitz
© Frank Franklin II/AP/Shutterstock
Attorney Alan Dershowitz leaves Manhattan Federal Court, in New York.
Another alleged victim, Sarah Ransome, who also claims she was forced to have sex with Dershowitz, filed an affidavit as part of Giuffre's complaint.

Ransome previously filed a lawsuit in 2017, claiming Epstein trafficked her for sex from October 2006 through April 2007-around the same time period Palm Beach police had turned their case against Epstein over to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Epstein settled Ransome's suit in December of last year. "We are pleased with the settlement. It provides as much compensation as money can provide for the horrific damage done by sex trafficking," her lawyer, David Boies, told the New York Post at the time.

Ransome originally filed the suit in Manhattan federal court under the pseudonym Jane Doe 43. Epstein, Maxwell, Kellen and Groff were named as defendants, along with another alleged recruiter, Natalya Malyshev.

According to Ransome's complaint, Malyshev introduced her to Epstein. The financier then promised to "use his wealth and influence to have [Ransome] admitted into The Fashion Institute of Technology... or into a similar institute of higher learning offering a curriculum of fashion industry training."

Maxwell informed Ransome that "she would need to provide Defendant Epstein with body massages in order to reap the benefits of his and Maxwell's connections," the lawsuit states. Those massages, during which Ransome was allegedly forced to perform sex acts with Epstein, occurred dozens of times at his New York townhouse and private island in the Virgin Islands.

Epstein and Maxwell "intimidated, threatened, humiliated and verbally abused [Ransome] in order to coerce her into sexual compliance," the lawsuit alleges. But they never followed through on their promise to help Ransome get into the fashion school, court papers state.

In her new affidavit, Ransome said she was 22 and living in New York when Malyshev recruited her into Epstein's alleged trafficking operation. Ransome alleges that soon after, Epstein invited her to his private island in the Virgin Islands, so that she'd have sex with him, Nadia Marcinkova, and "various other girls and guests he brought to the island."

Maxwell also recruited many girls to the island, Ransome says. Some of the women appeared 18 or older, while others seemed to be young teenagers.

Ransome said she stayed at Epstein's Manhattan townhouse, too, where she was "lent out by him to his friends and associates to have sex."

"Among the people he lent me to was his friend, Alan Dershowitz," Ransome stated in her affidavit. "On one occasion I was in a bedroom at Jeffrey's New York townhouse with Jeffrey and Nadia Marcinkova. After a short time, Alan Dershowitz entered the room, after which Jeffrey left the room and Nadia and I had sex with Dershowitz."

"I recall specific, key details of his person and the sex acts and can describe them in the event it becomes necessary to do so," Ransome concluded.

Dershowitz denied ever meeting Ransome. In April, just after Giuffre filed the lawsuit and affidavits, the Harvard academic told The Daily Beast: "She was a woman that was trying to sell a story to the New York Post that she had sex tapes of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Richard Branson. She claimed to have had sex with practically everyone under the sun, but not me."

Last week, Dershowitz again called the accusers' claims "outright perjury" and said, "I never met any of those three women." He accused the women and their lawyers of trying to reap $1 billion from Wexner, whom some have speculated was the real source of Epstein's wealth.

"It's all about money, it's all about millions of millions of dollars of money and it's just all a made up story-about me at least," Dershowitz told The Daily Beast.

Maxwell and the other alleged co-conspirators aren't the only ones accused of procuring girls to satisfy Epstein's ring of abuse.

Jean-Luc Brunel, proprietor of the MC2 modeling agency, was accused by Giuffre of supplying Epstein with a pipeline of underage models-many of them from Eastern Europe and from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, lured with promises of lucrative modeling jobs.

In a 2015 court declaration, Giuffre said she was forced to have sex with Brunel "many times when I was 16 through 19 years old." She said some of those encounters took place in Paris, the South of France, the U.S., and orgies at Epstein's private island, Little St. James.

"Jeffrey Epstein has told me that he has slept with over 1,000 of Brunel's girls, and everything that I have seen confirms this claim," Giuffre said in the court filing. She said Maxwell, Brunel and Epstein participated in orgies with as many as 10 underage girls in the U.S. Virgin Islands and other Epstein residences.

"Most of the girls did not speak English," Giuffre said.

Epstein's predilection for young women was characterized in Vanity Fair's prescient 2003 profile, "The Talented Mr. Epstein."

"Epstein is known about town as a man who loves women-lots of them, mostly young. Model types have been heard saying they are full of gratitude to Epstein for flying them around, and he is a familiar face to many of the Victoria's Secret girls," the author, Vicky Ward, writes.

One young woman told Vanity Fair that women seemed to outnumber men during events at Epstein's New York townhouse. "These were not women you'd see at Upper East Side dinners," the guest said. "Many seemed foreign and dressed a little bizarrely." The insider said some visitors to Epstein's home "were horrified" by the presence of young Russian models at a cocktail party, which Maxwell organized and Prince Andrew attended.

A former business associate warned the magazine that Epstein was "reckless and he's gotten more so."

"Money does that to you," the insider said. "He's breaking the oath he made to himself-that he would never do anything that would expose him in the media."

The clock is ticking for a remedy to Epstein's plea deal. The government has roughly three more weeks to submit its response to the Jane Does' requests. Epstein, too, is permitted to file a brief of his own in the case.

Attorneys for Epstein told The Daily Beast they would not comment until after their pleading has been filed. "We intend to file a strong legal response to the Petitioner's latest submission," one of Epstein's lawyers, Martin G. Weinberg, said in an email. "We believe once filed it will provide and full and complete rebuttal to the positions advanced by the Petitioners."

But Epstein's lawyers did point out, in a March letter to The New York Times, that "the government had achieved its principal objectives-a felony plea, incarceration, millions of dollars in restitution and monetary settlements, and lifetime sex offender registration-through its agreement with Mr. Epstein."

They said that a guilty plea in state, not federal court, "reflected the absence of evidence that Mr. Epstein used the internet, traveled to a location away from his home for the purpose of having illegal sex, commercially trafficked women to others, engaged in force, fraud or coercion, used drugs or alcohol to entice young women who came to his house to exchange sexual massages for money, possessed child pornography or in other ways violated federal law."

"The number of young women involved in the investigation has been vastly exaggerated," Epstein's lawyers continued, "there was no 'international sex-trafficking operation' and there was never evidence that Mr. Epstein 'hosted sex parties' at his home."

Still, Epstein's plea agreement has always been tangled up with questions of what, if anything, the hedge-funder provided to the feds in exchange for a lighter plea.

As the Herald reported, records showed Epstein was supposedly a key federal witness in the prosecution of two Bear Stearns executives accused of corporate securities fraud. (In March of this year, FOX Business reported that based on its own investigation, Epstein "did not provide any meaningful cooperation to obtain his relatively light sentence in the hedge fund case or likely any case tied to the financial crisis." Even Dershowitz was quoted in the piece, telling FOX, "The idea that Epstein helped in any prosecution is news to me.")

Unsealing Epstein's case file from the U.S. Attorney's Office could provide more answers on whether Epstein helped the government at all.

Last week, the Guardian reported that Epstein apparently had information on shady real-estate dealings by President Trump-an anecdote that's part of Michael Wolff's sequel to Fire and Fury, chronicling the first year of Trump's presidency.

As the story goes, in 2004, Epstein invited Trump to see a $36 million mansion he planned to purchase in Palm Beach, and Trump ended up buying it behind Epstein's back for about $40 million.

Epstein allegedly knew Trump had been selling his name in real estate deals and assumed he'd done so with the Palm Beach home, masking the property's true owners. Epstein, according to the Guardian report, threatened to expose the deal.

Whether the "Talented Mr. Epstein" will skate by without consequences for his alleged crimes remains to be seen.

But Sigrid McCawley, an attorney at Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, which represents multiple victims including Giuffre, said Epstein's time could be up. "I certainly hope they are preparing to find a way to prosecute," McCawley told The Daily Beast. "This is an opportunity for the government to show the victims that they stand behind them."

She said the CVRA case and Judge Marra's order is a watershed for victims' rights, as the accommodating treatment Epstein received from Acosta's office was unprecedented.

"This is a critical moment for victims' rights," McCawley said. "The government has an opportunity now to right that wrong.... to show the public that everybody's equal under the law."