Julie K. Brown (born 1961/62) is an American investigative journalist with the Miami Herald best known for pursuing the sex trafficking story surrounding Jeffrey Epstein, who in 2008 was allowed to plead guilty to two state-level prostitution offenses.
Brown was raised near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by a single parent. She left home at 16 and worked in menial jobs before she could afford to attend college. She graduated magna cum laude from Temple University in 1987 with a degree in journalism.
While at the Miami Herald, Brown spent four years investigating patterns of abuse in the Florida prison system. Her reporting work prompted a 2018 federal investigation into civil rights abuses in Lowell Correctional Institution in Central Florida.
Brown has been credited with re-opening the Jeffrey Epstein sexual abuse case with a series of reports published in November 2018. In 2008 Epstein had been allowed to plead guilty to only two state-level prostitution offenses even though sex with underage girls was legally rape. The secret deal that then-US Attorney Alex Acosta struck with Epstein made federal sex trafficking charges disappear, shut down a FBI probe that might have uncovered dozens of victims, and granted immunity to any possible co-conspirators, a clause that allegedly protected powerful men. Her 2018 reporting on the deal and Acosta's role in it sparked criticism of Acosta, who by then had become the United States secretary of labor, and there was pressure for him to resign. He eventually resigned after Epstein was arrested and charged in July 2019. After Epstein was re-arrested, many commentators praised her and the Herald for their reporting. "This is what happens when a reporter refuses to give up on a story," The Columbia Journalism Review wrote on Twitter following Epstein's arrest. Geoffrey Berman, a federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, also commented at a news conference that his team had been "assisted by some excellent investigative journalism." But she tweeted in response "The Real Heroes Here were the courageous victims that faced their fears and told their stories". Brown's articles were collected under the title "Perversion of Justice" and resurfaced on social media.
Brown won a 2014 George Polk Award, from Long Island University, for "Cruel and Unusual", her series of articles on "the brutal, sometimes fatal mistreatment of Florida prison inmates with mental illnesses."
She received a 2019 George Polk Award in the category of Justice Reporting for her 2018 series of articles "Perversion of Justice." Her series covered the extensive number of accusers in the Epstein case and the role of federal prosecutor Alex Acosta who permitted a non-prosecution agreement that protected four named conspirators and "granted immunity to any possible co-conspirators, a proviso that seemed to protect the powerful men Epstein partied with."
In April 2019, Alan Dershowitz (an associate of Epstein who was one of his attorneys during his criminal investigation in 2006-2008) tried to pressure the Pulitzer prize committee to shut out Brown and the Miami Herald for her investigative reporting that reopened the Epstein case. In an open letter Dershowitz wrote Brown should not be rewarded for her work. She was not.