Rep. Matt Gaetz’s former girlfriend is granted immunity by prosecutors in sex trafficking probe
An ex-girlfriend of Rep. Matt Gaetz was granted immunity by prosecutors after testifying about a 2018 trip they took to the Bahamas with an 18 year-old girl Gaetz denies trafficking.
The ex, who is not named to protect her privacy, testified in front of a federal grand jury in Orlando last Wednesday. She, Gaetz, and two other women – including an 18 year-old Gaetz was also having sex with – made the Caribbean trip four years ago.
It is unclear what the ex said in court, but prosecutors are trying to ascertain whether the 18 year-old was 17 when she began seeing Gaetz, CBS News reported. That would make her younger than the age of consent in Florida. He denies wrongdoing.
The former teenager at the center of the enquiry is still being sought by investigators.
Prior to today’s ruling, the ex was seen as a potential key witness into claims Gaetz had sex with an underage girl who was trafficked, according to two sources familiar with the investigation.
The unnamed ex-girlfriend and the other woman allegedly traveled to the Bahamas with Gaetz in 2018, along with a third woman with whom Gaetz was in a sexual relationship, according to multiple sources.
Investigators are also assessing whether any of the three women on the trip were paid and were illegally trafficked across the U.S. border into Florida for the purpose of sex with the congressman.
Matt Gaetz is pictured with wife Ginger Luckey in a New Years picture, captioned: ‘Welcome 2022!’
In late 2020, the Department of Justice opened an investigation into allegations that Gaetz, 39, had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl in violation of federal sex trafficking laws, which Gaetz has repeatedly denied. In April 2021, the House Ethics Committee also announced an investigation.
One of the sources said Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend possesses information in connection to the investigation of both the sex trafficking and obstruction allegations, CBS News reported. No further details of that information have emerged.
Gaetz is married to Ginger Luckey, the sister of Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus VR, who he wed last year.
‘This may be a willing participant who has a smart lawyer who sought an immunity deal from the government,’ said former prosecutor and CBS News legal analyst Rikki Kleiman. ‘The government does not give immunity blindly, they know what they’re getting in exchange.’
U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL), 39, is subject to two investigations over claims he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl in 2018, and whether he was part of a sex trafficking scheme to bring women, some of the minors, into the U.S.
In a statement shared last week, Gaetz’s attorney Isabelle Kirshner, told CBS News that ‘we have seen no credible basis for a charge against Congressman Gaetz. We remain steadfast in our commitment to challenge any allegations with the facts and the law.’
An unidentified source told the national outlet last week that prosecutors are looking for evidence on whether Gaetz had a phone call with the ex-girlfriend, as well as another woman, who is also considered as a witness in the federal investigation.
Matt Gaetz (third from left), with Joel Greenberg (center) and Ron DeSantis (second from right) in a picture from 2018. Greenberg, a former Florida county tax collector and associate of Gaetz’s, introduced Gaetz to a woman he had a sexual relationship with when she allegedly was 17-years-old
Greenberg (front right) pleaded guilty in May 2021 to six federal charges, including trafficking of a minor before agreeing to cooperate with the federal government on prosecutions of other persons involved in the investigation
Two sources familiar with the investigation told CBS News said it was Joel Greenberg, a former Florida county tax collector and associate of Gaetz’s, who introduced Gaetz to that woman when she allegedly was 17-years-old.
Greenberg pleaded guilty in May 2021 to six federal charges, including trafficking of a minor.
Greenberg admitted he was involved in ‘sugar daddy’ relationships in which he paid women for sex, including a minor with whom he engaged in ‘commercial sex acts.’
He has signed a plea agreement with the federal government — and it includes a clause stipulating he’ll ‘cooperate fully in the investigation and prosecution of other persons,’ as Gaetz’s investigation continues.