Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.At least 24 hours before Jeffrey Epstein’s death on Aug. 10, eight people at the Bureau of Prisons had been told that the wealthy financier and sex offender was not to be left alone in his cell at theEpstein's accusers and their attorneys will have a chance to share their stories in a Manhattan federal court on Tuesday, before the criminal case against Epstein is closed.
Manhattan Correctional Center. But he was anyway — and then Epstein killed himself.The order to never leave Epstein alone was given to supervisors and managers as well as lower-level staffers, the Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing anonymous sources. Investigators are now looking into whether these people also knew, for sure, that Epstein had been left alone in his cell.Epstein had been charged with sexually trafficking a minor and conspiring to commit sex trafficking, and was potentially facing decades in prison. The New York City medical examiner’s office has ruled his death a suicide by hanging, but questions still swirl around whether bureaucratic failures contributed to the circumstances that led him to die.Epstein was placed on suicide watch after he apparently tried to kill himself weeks earlier, but was reportedly taken off shortly before his death. Suicide watch would have guaranteed that he’d have a cellmate — but his cellmate was transferred out. When he died, Epstein was housed alone.The U.S. Bureau of Prisons declined to comment for the Post’s story.Attorney General William Barr, who leads the federal prison system as the top U.S. law enforcement official, has launched an investigation into Epstein’s death. That probe has not found anything that would call into question the medical examiner’s verdict, Barr said, and is now “well along,” according to the Post.Still, the fallout has already begun: On Monday, Barr replaced the acting head of the Bureau of Prisons, which has placed two staffers assigned to Epstein’s cell on leave. Barr also reassigned the warden of the Manhattan Correctional Center, where Epstein was housed.Lawsuits against Epstein’s estate have continued to percolate in the wake of his death, but it may be difficult for the many women who say he abused them as minors to collect damages. Just two days before he died, Epstein signed a will to put his money into a trust.That trust will hide any beneficiaries from public view, experts told the Associated Press, and Epstein’s accusers will need to convince a judge that the trust’s secrecy should be revoked. The accusers and their attorneys will have a chance to share their stories in a Manhattan federal court on Tuesday, before the criminal case against Epstein is closed.Cover image: An inmate at a correctional facility (Marijan Murat/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)