Federal probe launched into Jeffrey Epstein death

Federal probe launched into Jeffrey Epstein death

US federal investigators have launched a probe into the death of financier Jeffrey Epstein, following his apparent suicide in his prison cell.

Epstein, who was accused of orchestrating a sex trafficking ring and sexually abusing dozens of underage girls, was found on Saturday morning unresponsive in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Centre, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

He was later pronounced dead at New York Presbyterian-Lower Manhattan Hospital.

Epstein had been placed on suicide watch after he was found a little over two weeks ago with bruising on his neck, according to a person familiar with the matter. But he was taken off the watch at the end of July.

The Manhattan Correctional Centre where financier Jeffrey Epstein was found dead (Bebeto Matthews/AP)
The Manhattan Correctional Centre where financier Jeffrey Epstein was found dead (Bebeto Matthews/AP)

Attorney General William Barr, calling for an investigation by the FBI and the Justice Department’s inspector general’s office, said he was “appalled” to learn of Epstein’s death while in federal custody.

“Mr Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered,” Mr Barr said in a statement.

Epstein, 66, had been denied bail and faced up to 45 years behind bars on federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges. He had pleaded not guilty and was awaiting trial.

The federal investigation into the allegations remains ongoing, US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said. He noted that the indictment against Epstein includes a conspiracy charge, suggesting others could face charges in the case.

Every single person in the Justice Department - from your Main Justice headquarters staff all the way to the night-shift jailer - knew that this man was a suicide risk, and that his dark secrets couldn't be allowed to die with him

Epstein’s death raises questions about how the Bureau of Prisons ensures the welfare of such high-profile inmates. In October, Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger was killed in a federal prison in West Virginia where had just been transferred.

Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote in a scathing letter to Mr Barr that “heads must roll” after the incident.

“Every single person in the Justice Department – from your Main Justice headquarters staff all the way to the night-shift jailer – knew that this man was a suicide risk, and that his dark secrets couldn’t be allowed to die with him,” Mr Sasse wrote.

Epstein’s removal from suicide watch would have been approved by both the warden of the jail and the facility’s chief psychologist, said Jack Donson, a former prison official who worked for the Bureau of Prisons for more than two decades.

On Friday, more than 2,000 pages of documents were released related to a since-settled lawsuit against Epstein’s ex-girlfriend by Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s accusers. The records contain graphic allegations against Epstein, as well as the transcript of a 2016 deposition of Epstein in which he repeatedly refused to answer questions to avoid incriminating himself.

Federal probe launched into Jeffrey Epstein death

Ms Giuffre, in an interview with The New York Times, said she was grateful Epstein will never harm anyone again, but is angry that there would be no chance to see him answer for his conduct.

“We’ve worked so hard to get here, and he stole that from us, too,” she told the newspaper.

Sigrid McCawley, Ms Giuffre’s attorney, said Epstein’s suicide less than 24 hours after the documents were unsealed “is no coincidence”. Ms McCawley urged authorities to continue their investigation, focusing on Epstein associates who she said “participated and facilitated Epstein’s horrifying sex trafficking scheme”.

Epstein’s arrest drew national attention, particularly focusing on a deal that allowed Epstein to plead guilty in 2008 to soliciting a minor for prostitution in Florida and avoid more serious federal charges.

Federal prosecutors in New York reopened the probe after investigative reporting by The Miami Herald stirred outrage over that plea bargain.

His lawyers maintained that the new charges in New York were covered by the 2008 plea deal and that Epstein had not had any illicit contact with underage girls since serving his 13-month sentence in Florida.

- Press Association

More on this topic

US backs Saudi Arabia’s ‘right to defend itself’, says PompeoUS backs Saudi Arabia’s ‘right to defend itself’, says Pompeo

Outlook for US factories remains weak amid slowing global economiesOutlook for US factories remains weak amid slowing global economies

Pigeon poos on politician being interviewed about the problem of pigeon pooPigeon poos on politician being interviewed about the problem of pigeon poo

Epstein accusers denied compensation in victims’ rights caseEpstein accusers denied compensation in victims’ rights case

More in this Section

We can have a Brexit deal, Jean-Claude Juncker insistsWe can have a Brexit deal, Jean-Claude Juncker insists

Boris Johnson admits he repeatedly crashes drones after testing Army deviceBoris Johnson admits he repeatedly crashes drones after testing Army device

Premier League footballer jumped from hotel window amid blackmail bid, UK jury toldPremier League footballer jumped from hotel window amid blackmail bid, UK jury told

Canadian PM Trudeau begs forgiveness for brownface photo as new incidents emergeCanadian PM Trudeau begs forgiveness for brownface photo as new incidents emerge


Lifestyle

There are literally hundreds of free events on offer this evening for kids and adults on Culture Night. Marjorie Brennan selects the best of them, in Cork and beyondCulture Night: Get out and make the most of it

The American heritage brand has put together a collection inspired by the most stylish Friends character.This is why Rachel Green’s style is the epitome of Ralph Lauren – as a new collection is announced

When starting out as a comedian, Cork man Andrew Ryan decided to go to straight to London, sidestepping the usual starting ground of Irish clubs and pubs.Cork comedian Andrew Ryan is 'a cross between Ardal O’Hanlon and Ed Byrne'

Rachel Marie Walsh knows the best eyeliners to try this season.Beauty is in the eye of the beholder: Essential eyeliners for a killer look

More From The Irish Examiner