Jeffrey Epstein was awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges: What we know about his apparent suicide – USA TODAY
Jeffrey Epstein pleaded not guilty to charges of drug trafficking and allegedly sexually abusing dozens of underage girls in New York and Florida.
Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced financier, died early Saturday in an apparent suicide, officials said. The well-connected millionaire had been awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges in a Manhattan jail.
The FBI and U.S. Inspector General’s office will investigate the circumstances of his apparent suicide while in federal custody, and the probe into the numerous sexual abuse allegations against him will continue, officials said.
Epstein was found unresponsive in his jail cell Saturday morning, and was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to a statement from the Metropolitan Correctional Center.
Here’s what we know about Epstein’s death right now:
Who was Jeffrey Epstein?
Epstein, 66, was a hedge fund manager whose friends included President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton, and Britain’s Prince Andrew.
He owned a seven story penthouse in New York City, a private island in the Caribbean, and residences in Florida, New Mexico and Paris.
Epstein was arrested in July and pleaded not guilty to charges of drug trafficking and sexually abusing dozens of underage girls in New York and Florida.
In 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty to state charges in Florida of soliciting prostitution from a minor and other prostitution charges. He had to register as a sex offender, but avoided a length prison sentence under a highly scrutinized plea deal.
How did he die?
Epstein was found unresponsive in his jail cell early Saturday, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. Staff could not revive him, and he was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
He had been held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan in the jail’s Special Housing Unit, a heavily secured part of the facility that separates high-profile inmates from the general population. This unit held Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman until recently.
Epstein’s death is likely to raise questions about how the Bureau of Prisons ensures the welfare of high-profile inmates.
Questions from Congress: ‘We need answers. Lots of them.': Congress calls for investigations after Jeffrey Epstein’s death
Epstein had been placed on suicide watch three weeks ago after he was found unconscious in his jail cell with bruises on his neck, but he was taken off of suicide watch less than a week later.
Criminal justice experts say that this is not uncommon, as the length of time inmates stay on suicide watch varies greatly.
To have been removed, a mental health professional would have had to deem that Epstein was no longer a risk to himself, according to Lisa Boesky, a clinical psychologist and jail suicide expert in San Diego.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr said he was “appalled” that Epstein had died of an apparent suicide while in federal custody at the MCC, which is part of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility under the Department of Justice.
“Mr. Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered,” Barr said in a statement. “In addition to the FBI’s investigation, I have consulted with the Inspector General who is opening an investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Epstein’s death.
What does this mean for his accusers?
Epstein’s death has sparked outrage among his numerous alleged victims who are frustrated that he will never have to face them in court.
“We have to live with the scars of his actions for the rest of our lives, while he will never face the consequences of the crimes he committed the pain and trauma he caused so many people,” accuser Jennifer Araoz said in a statement.
Epstein’s death came within 24 hours after long-sealed documents were released by a federal court in a since-settled lawsuit against Epstein’s ex-girlfriend brought by Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s accusers.
Giuffre’s lawyer, Sigrid McCawley, said the timing was “no coincidence,” and called on authorities to continue their investigation, focusing on Epstein associates who she said “participated and facilitated Epstein’s horrifying sex trafficking scheme.”
Contributing: Associated Press