UPDATE: FBI investigating Epstein's death, alleged victim urges authorities to go after his associates
NEW YORK (AP) — An investigation has been launched into the death of Jeffrey Epstein, the well-connected millionaire accused of orchestrating a sex trafficking ring who killed himself inside a New York City jail early Saturday morning.
The US Bureau of Prisons, which has confirmed Epstein’s death, says the probe is being led by the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
The 66-year-old was found unresponsive in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Centre, according to a statement from the Bureau of Prisons.
The New York City Fire Department said it received a call at 6:39a.m. that Epstein was in cardiac arrest.
He was pronounced dead at New York Presbyterian-Lower Manhattan Hospital.
The Bureau of Prisons confirmed that he was being housed in the jail’s Special Housing Unit, a heavily secured part of the facility that separates high-profile inmates from the general population.
Epstein had been denied bail and faced up to 45 years behind bars on federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges that were unsealed last month.
Prosecutors accused him of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls.
He had pleaded not guilty.
A little over two weeks ago, Epstein was found on the floor of his jail cell with bruises on his neck, according to law enforcement sources.
At the time, it was not clear whether the injuries were self-inflicted or from an assault.
Epstein’s death is likely to raise questions about how the Bureau of Prisons ensures the welfare of high-profile inmates.
Cameron Lindsay, a former warden who ran three federal lockups, said the death represents “an unfortunate and shocking failure, if proven to be a suicide.”
“Unequivocally, he should have been on active suicide watch and therefore under direct and constant supervision,” Lindsay said.
“When you have an inmate as high profile as Epstein, it’s absolutely imperative the warden set the tone with his or her leadership to ensure these kinds of incidents don’t happen.”
Yesterday, more than 2,000 pages of documents were released related to a since-settled lawsuit against Epstein’s ex-girlfriend by one of his accusers.
The documents also revealed the names of dozens of high-profile persons the woman claim she was forced to perform sex acts with.
The woman’s attorney, Sigrid McCawley, said Epstein’s suicide less than 24 hours after the documents were unsealed “is no coincidence.”
Further, McCawley called on federal authorities to continue their investigation, focusing attention on Epstein’s associates who, according to her, “participated and facilitated Epstein’s horrifying sex trafficking scheme.”
“The reckoning of accountability begun by the voices of brave and truthful victims should not end with Jeffrey Epstein’s cowardly and shameful suicide,” McCawley said in a statement.
“The victims await the true justice they have sought and deserve.”
Before his legal troubles, Epstein led a life of extraordinary luxury that drew powerful people into his orbit.
He socialised with princes and presidents and lived on a 100-acre private island in the Caribbean and one of the biggest mansions in New York.
The somewhat reclusive Epstein splashed into the news in 2002 after a New York tabloid reported he had lent his Boeing 727 to ferry former President Bill Clinton and other notables on an AIDS relief mission to Africa.
His friends over the years have included Donald Trump, Britain’s Prince Andrew and former Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz.