President Donald Trump’s Labour Secretary Alexander Acosta is stepping down from his role.
The move comes following growing calls for his resignation over his handling of a plea deal with wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein, who is once more accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls.
When he was a US attorney Acosta granted a deal to secretly end a federal sex abuse investigation involving at least 40 teenage girls that could have landed the sexual predator behind bars for life.
He instead pleaded guilty to state charges, spent 13 months in jail, paid settlements to victims and became a registered sex offender.
US Federal prosecutors have now charged Epstein, 66, with more charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy.
Court documents show Epstein is charged with creating and maintaining a network that allowed him to sexually exploit and abuse dozens of underage girls.
President Trump, who told New York Magazine about his friendship with fellow tycoon Jefffrey Epstein back in 2002: “I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy… He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side,” insisted that he had not asked Mr Acosta to leave the Cabinet.
But the scandal was becoming increasingly embarrassing for the Trump administration, especially considering some of the measures Mr Acosta had been associated with of late.
The Labour Secretary had proposed to cut 80% of funding to a program dedicated to combating human trafficking, forced labour, and child labour.
Even more sinisterly, his department has stopped certifying visas for trafficking survivors, leaving victims even more vulnerable.
And Democrats have been increasingly pointing out the parallels with Mr Acosta’s past attitude to child trafficking.
The president said Mr Acosta had been a “great” labour secretary.
A Florida lawyer who represents several Epstein victims welcomed Acosta’s resignation.
“Mr Acosta broke the law when he was a US attorney by failing to keep the victims informed about the negotiations taking place in 2008,” said attorney Spencer Kuvin.
“We should never allow an official who has been held to break the law by a federal court, to hold an office in the president’s cabinet. His resignation today is hopefully only the first step in holding those accountable.”