Gaetz Expected to Avoid Trafficking Charges

Sources cite credibility issues with witnesses, per the Washington Post
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 23, 2022 1:34 PM CDT
Gaetz to Avoid Sex Trafficking Charges: Report
Representative Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, in Orlando, Fla.   (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

Matt Gaetz is likely to skirt sex trafficking charges related to his alleged sexual involvement with a 17-year-old girl, according to the Washington Post. Prosecutors have recommended that the Justice Department not lay charges against the Florida congressman as a conviction would be unlikely. According to the Post's sources, prosecutors see credibility issues with two central witnesses, including the female with whom Gaetz was allegedly involved, who has since passed the age of majority. A DOJ investigation launched in 2020 sought to determine whether Gaetz paid for sex with the woman when she was 17.

But her testimony "has issues that veteran prosecutors feel would not pass muster with a jury," the Post reports. A jury might also doubt testimony provided by Gaetz's former friend Joel Greenberg, who pleaded guilty to six criminal charges, including sex trafficking of a minor, as part of a plea deal last year. Though he's reportedly been helping prosecutors with the Gaetz case, the deal saw him admit to fabricating sexual misconduct claims against a teacher who was vying for Greenberg's position as a tax collector in Florida's Seminole County, per the Post. He also admitted to stealing from the tax collector's office and defrauding the government's PPP loan program.

Asked to comment on the report, Gaetz attorney Isabelle Kirshner told CNBC on Friday, "When I hear it from DOJ, I’m happy to talk." Department officials have yet to make a final decision, with sources noting additional evidence could surface, per the Post. Gaetz has denied the allegations, saying the only time he had sex with a 17-year-old was when he was the same age. The investigation centered on allegations that he paid for women to travel across state lines for sex in addition to the claims involving the minor. (Gaetz reportedly sought a preemptive pardon in the case from then-President Trump.)

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