Several people who had accused multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein of years of forcing and/or paying underage girls to provide sex for some of America’s most prominent people, including Donald Trump, have expressed dismay at his reported death Saturday. He was found in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. Epstein was being held without bail on two sex trafficking counts and was facing 45 years in prison if convicted.
Authorities said he had apparently hanged himself. The FBI is investigating the circumstances. NBC reports:
Epstein, 66, was in his federal jail cell in downtown Manhattan but was not on suicide watch at the time of his death, multiple people familiar with the investigation told NBC News. He had apparently hanged himself, and was found unresponsive at around 6:30 a.m. ET. [...]
His death came the day after a trove of court documents was unsealed, providing new details about Epstein's alleged sex trafficking. [...]
The FBI does not normally look into suicides at a federal Bureau of Prisons facility, but given the nature of this case and out of an “abundance of caution,” it has undertaken this probe, a senior law enforcement official said.
NBC stated “There is nothing at this point to suggest foul play in Epstein's death” without citing a source for the assertion. He had previously been on suicide watch, but authorities say this was not the case Saturday. One source said he had been taken off suicide watch just hours before he was found dead. A bit more than two weeks ago, Epstein was found injured and semi-conscious in his cell with marks on his neck.
The Miami Herald reports:
Epstein’s social and political circuit included an array of the world’s top scientists, politicians and world leaders. They are now part of the ever-growing scandal over a sex-trafficking case that has already toppled the career of Alexander Acosta, President Trump’s labor secretary, who resigned in July over his controversial handling of Epstein’s criminal case when he was a federal prosecutor in 2008.
Some of Epstein’s friends are now coping with unproven accusations that they had sex with one or more of the girls and young women the multimillionaire money manager groomed and trained as part of his alleged sex-trafficking operation. The accusations were tucked into brief references and footnotes in thousands of pages of court records unsealed Friday from a lawsuit brought by Epstein’s self-described teenage sex slave, Virginia Giuffre, in 2015.
Accusers expressed anger that Epstein had escaped what they hoped would be justice for his alleged crimes. Some wondered how he could have committed suicide under what was supposed to have been close federal surveillance.
In another story, the Herald noted:
Palm Beach lawyer Jack Scarola, who represents several victims, said an investigation is called for into how Epstein was able to, once again, get authorities to look the other way.
“It is inexplicable how such a high-profile person on suicide watch could commit suicide without help,’’ Scarola said.
“Epstein once again cheated his victims out of an opportunity for justice. While I’m sure none of them regret his death, all of them regret the information that died with him. The one expectation is that Epstein’s death not derail the investigation into others who participated in his criminal activities. There are named and unnamed co-conspirators who still need to be brought to justice,’’ Scarola said.