Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Thursday that will authorize the release of certain documents related to financier and convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.

“There needs to be a mechanism in some of these rare circumstances where people can get the truth,” DeSantis, a Republican, said before signing HB 117, titled Disclosure of Grand Jury Testimony, during a Palm Beach news conference.

HB 117 will amend Florida statute 905.27 to give courts discretion to authorize disclosure of grand jury testimony in some cases where it furthers a public interest, such as the Epstein case involving underage girls. The Florida House and the Florida Senate unanimously passed the measure earlier this month.

The legislation is limited to cases in which a suspect is dead and the crimes involve sexual behavior with minors.

Authorities found Epstein dead in his New York prison cell in August 2019 where he was in custody after his arrest on federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges. Authorities ruled his death a suicide, but family members contested that claim. He previously pleaded guilty to lesser charges in 2008.

The grand jury materials in question revolve around a plea deal that year. Epstein pleaded guilty to Florida state charges of soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution in exchange for a non-prosecution agreement that allowed him to avert a possible life sentence. He served 13 months in a work-release program, paid his victims, and registered as a sex offender.

DeSantis called that plea agreement “a black spot on our justice system.” The governor called the punishment “effectively a slap on the wrist, given the severity of the crimes.”

The 2019 charges included sexual assault of underage girls from 2002 to 2005, paying them to recruit others, and engaging in a criminal conspiracy to engage in these practices. In 2020, the FBI arrested Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell on charges of conspiracy, sex trafficking of minor children, and perjury.

A jury convicted Maxwell on five of six counts, including one count of sex trafficking of a minor, in December 2021. She faces a second criminal trial for two charges of lying under oath about Epstein’s abuse of underage girls. Last year, a judge sentenced her to 20 years in prison.

Jena-Lisa Jones, one of Epstein’s alleged victims, spoke before DeSantis signed the bill in Palm Beach.

“We have had no closure whatsoever on what has happened with these crimes,” Jones said. “Epstein was charged for his crimes in 2006 and we are finally going to learn why.”

“We have been left in the dark for so long with no answers to what is going on and why things played out the way they did,” she added. “It would have saved literally hundreds of girls from being put in a position that none of us ever wanted to be put in.”

Another of Epstein’s alleged victims, Haley Robson, spoke.

“I can’t express the gratitude I have for this bill,” Robson said.

Both Robson and Jones stood by DeSantis as he signed the legislation.

The bill will take effect July 1.

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