NEW YORK (Reuters) – Disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein was discovered dead on Saturday after an apparent suicide in the New York jail cell the place he was being held with out bail on sex-trafficking expenses, and a supply stated he was not on suicide watch on the time of his dying.
Epstein, 66, was discovered unresponsive in his cell in the Special Housing Unit of the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) and brought to a hospital the place he was pronounced dead, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which operates the decrease Manhattan jail, stated in an announcement. It declined to remark additional.
Epstein, a well-connected money manager dogged for years by allegations that he sexually abused women and younger ladies, was discovered hanging by his neck, in keeping with the supply, who was not approved to talk on the report.
The financier, who as soon as counted Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic former President Bill Clinton as associates, was arrested on July 6 and pleaded not responsible to expenses of intercourse trafficking involving dozens of underage women as younger as 14, from not less than 2002 to 2005.
The FBI and the Department of Justice’s Inspector General have been opening investigations into his dying, U.S. Attorney General William Barr stated, including that he was “appalled” to study of the apparent suicide in federal custody.
Last month, Epstein was discovered unconscious on the ground of his jail cell with marks on his neck, and officers have been investigating that incident as a doable suicide or assault.
“Mr. Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered,” Barr stated in an announcement.
Even although Epstein was discovered unconscious final month, he had not too long ago been taken off suicide watch, a particular set of procedures for inmates in hazard of taking their very own life, in keeping with the supply. The financier was in a cell by himself when his physique was discovered.
It was not instantly clear why Epstein was taken off suicide watch.
At the MCC, two jail guards are required to make separate checks on all prisoners each 30 minutes, however that process was not adopted in a single day, in keeping with the supply. In addition, each 15 minutes guards are required to make one other examine on prisoners who’re on suicide watch.
Guards usually take away any prisoner positioned on suicide watch from the Special Housing Unit the place Epstein was housed, in keeping with a Twitter publish by Preet Bharara, a former Manhattan-based U.S. lawyer. The unit separates inmates corresponding to accused intercourse offenders from the final inhabitants for his or her safety.
Aja Davis, a spokeswoman for the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, stated she couldn’t say how Epstein died earlier than her workplace examined the physique.
INVESTIGATION TO CONTINUE
Epstein was arrested on July 6 at a New Jersey airport after taking a non-public airplane from Paris. Last month, a decide refused Epstein’s request to launch him on bail and permit him to dwell below 24-hour guard in his opulent townhouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The financier was interesting that ruling.
The indictment accused Epstein of knowingly recruiting underage ladies to have interaction in intercourse acts with him, typically over a interval of years whereas paying the ladies for every encounter.
Prosecutors stated a search of his townhouse, performed below a warrant, uncovered proof of a whole bunch, and maybe 1000’s, of nude pictures of “what appeared to be underage girls,” together with some pictures cataloged on compact discs and stored in a locked secure.
In a court docket submitting on July 25, the federal government stated it was pursuing an “ongoing investigation of uncharged individuals” in reference to the case.
That investigation, by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, will proceed regardless of Epstein’s dying, a special supply conversant in the matter stated.
“Today’s events are disturbing, and we are deeply aware of their potential to present yet another hurdle to giving Epstein’s many victims their day in court,” Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, stated in an announcement. “Our investigation of the conduct charged in the indictment – which included a conspiracy count – remains ongoing.”
In addition to Trump and Clinton, Epstein has socialized with L Brands founder Les Wexner over time, and in keeping with court docket papers, with Britain’s Prince Andrew. None of them was talked about in the indictment towards Epstein.
The expenses have been introduced greater than a decade after he pleaded responsible in Florida to state expenses of solicitation of prostitution from a minor in a take care of prosecutors that has been extensively criticized as too lenient.
One of the Florida prosecutors, Alexander Acosta, resigned as U.S. labor secretary in July because the deal got here below contemporary scrutiny after Epstein’s arrest in New York.
His dying got here a day after the unsealing of a court docket submitting in which a girl who accused Epstein of retaining her as a intercourse slave stated one of many financier’s associates had instructed her to have intercourse with not less than a half-dozen outstanding males.
The declare by Virginia Giuffre got here in a deposition that was included in about 2,000 pages of paperwork associated to her defamation lawsuit towards Ghislaine Maxwell, the affiliate whom Giuffre stated helped Epstein procure women for intercourse.
Lawyers for Maxwell didn’t reply to a number of cellphone and electronic mail requests for remark.
Additional reporting by Jan Wolfe and Lucia Mutikani in Washington and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Writing by Frank McGurty; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Jonathan Oatis