Even after his death, the investigation into accomplices in sexual abuse continues.
The death of American billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, 66, in his cell in New York on Saturday, has caused indignation among American politicians and alleged victims who accuse him of sexual offenses with underage girls. Besides the crimes he has been accused of – sexual abuse and human trafficking – now the circumstances surrounding his apparent suicide are also the target of an investigation by the authorities.
Epstein, a financier who counted President Donald Trump and former President Bill Clinton among his friends, was found dead by guards. He had been in jail since July, awaiting trial. The Federal Bureau of Prisons said he hanged himself.
Epstein’s death brings a premature end to his long-awaited prosecution, which could have led to life imprisonment. Since a conviction in Florida in 2008, he had been considered a sex offender. He denied the charges.
On Suicide Watch
There are big questions around how Epstein was able to die in detention. In July, after he was found unconscious in his cell with bruises on his neck, he was put on suicide watch. But that watch was canceled at the end of July, according to American media sources. According to The New York Times, Epstein should have been checked by a guard every 30 minutes, but that directive was not followed. Moreover, the fact that he was alone in his cell, despite the recent suicide watch, was supposedly against regulations.
American politicians have reacted with dismay. “Mr. Epstein's death raises serious questions that must be answered,” Attorney General William Barr said in a statement. Barr, who is said to be “appalled,” announced an investigation by the Justice Department’s inspector general. The FBI has opened an investigation as well. According to Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, “Heads must roll.”
Testimony of ‘Sex Slave’
The pressing questions do not stop there. Epstein’s death followed the publication on Friday of a wealth of new data about his alleged crimes. In confidential testimony from 2016, Virginia Roberts Giuffre accused him of having abused her as a “sex slave” in his houses in New York, Florida, New Mexico and the Caribbean. She was allegedly ordered to give Epstein and his friends massages and to have sex with them. British Prince Andrew, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former Democratic Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell are among the names mentioned in the document which concerned an earlier case against an Epstein employee which settled in 2017. All deny the accusations.
On social media, unfounded speculation appeared claiming that Epstein was murdered to protect influential friends. President Trump spread a conspiracy theory that Clinton was behind his death, by retweeting another tweet to that effect from American comedian Terrence Williams. A Clinton spokesperson denied the accusation as “ridiculous, and of course not true - and Donald Trump knows it.” The New York prosecutor stated that the investigation continues into Epstein’s possible accomplices.