As part of an ongoing sex trafficking probe, the ex-girlfriend of Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz testified before a federal grand jury last week. Her reported cooperation has now earned her immunity.
Precisely why she would need immunity and for what crimes is at this time unclear. Typically there are two types of immunity: total or “derivative use” immunity. Total immunity is a coverall and prevents a defendant from being slapped with any future charges based on matters related to their testimony.
Derivative use is often more restricted and acts more like a Fifth Amendment privilege, meaning that it can protect a witness from having their statements used against them but it does allow prosecutors to levy charges based on the same crime so long as the charges are based on evidence obtained independently from a different source.
Again, it is unclear which version of immunity Gaetz’s former girlfriend may have secured.
The development was first reported by CBS News. A representative for the Department of Justice did not immediately return a request for comment.
Gaetz has been under investigation by the Department of Justice for several months as investigators assess whether he committed a variety of sex crimes, including paying underage women for sex and traveling with them over state lines while they were still minors.
Authorities are also reportedly exploring an obstruction of justice charge for the congressman in light of his reported attempt to communicate with one of the alleged witnesses to the crime.
Gaetz has vehemently denied all of the allegations but according to CBS, two sources have confirmed that the young woman granted immunity is “viewed as a potential witness” who has “information related to the investigation of both the sex trafficking and obstruction allegations.”
The news outlet also says that young woman may have traveled with Gaetz to the Bahamas in 2018 or 2019 with two other women. One of the women allegedly had sex with Gaetz on the trip and it is unclear if she was a minor or 18 years old at the time.
An attorney for Gaetz, Isabelle Kirshner, said in a statement last week that there is “no credible basis for a charge” against Gaetz.
“We remain steadfast in our commitment to challenge any allegations with the facts and law,” Kirshner said.