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Jeffrey Epstein was found with a bed sheet around his neck according to a Washington Post report that alleges serious missteps in the monitoring of the sex offender in the hours before his death.
Epstein’s cell was not checked for hours before he was discovered unresponsive on Saturday morning, the Post says, citing union officials and people familiar with the situation. The officials blamed overworked staff and a lack of resources for the failure to adequately monitor Epstein.
“We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation,” Attorney General William Barr said on Monday. “There will be accountability.”
Parallel federal investigations in Epstein’s death have been launched at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in New York City.
As alleged victims voiced their anger that Epstein was allowed to die while in custody, Barr said that investigations — into allegations that he sexually abused dozens of young girls and operated a global sex trafficking ring between 2002 and 2005 — would continue.
“Let me assure you that case will continue on against anyone who was complicit with Epstein,” and that “any co-conspirators should not rest easy. Victims deserve justice and will get it,” Barr said.
Here’s the latest on the Epstein investigation:
- Epstein was placed on suicide watch on July 23 when he was found semi-conscious in his cell with bruises on his neck. But he was taken off suicide watch a week later and returned to the special housing unit, where he was meant to be checked on every 30 minutes. But a severe staff shortage, together with overworked prison officers have been blamed on a failure to meet those monitoring targets.
- Epstein should have had a cellmate in the special housing unit, but on Friday that person was transferred, and at the time of his death the 66-year-old was in his cell alone. Nicholas Tartaglione, a 51-year-old former New York City police officer awaiting trial for allegedly kidnapping and murdering four men, had been Epstein’s cellmate, but some time before his death, Tartaglione was housed elsewhere.
- E.O. Young, the national president of the Council of Prison Locals C-33, which represents prison guards, told the Post that there was speculation that Epstein was in fear of Tartaglione and was trying to get away from him. Young added that he believed that, at least for a time, Epstein had another cellmate after coming off suicide watch.
- Serene Gregg, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 3148, which represents federal employees, said the MCC is functioning with less than 70 percent of the correctional officers it needs. “If it wasn’t Mr. Epstein, it would have been somebody else, because of the conditions at that institution,” Gregg said. “It wasn’t a matter of how it happened or it happening, but it was only a matter of time for it to happen. It was inevitable. Our staff is severely overworked.”
- The cause of Epstein’s death has not yet been officially announced. An autopsy was conducted on Epstein on Sunday, but Barbara Sampson, New York City’s chief medical examiner, said her office had not yet reached a determination on cause of death “pending further information.”
- There is no clarity over whether or not Epstein’s cell and/or the hallways around the cell were covered by CCTV cameras. A union official told the Post that there are many cameras in the MCC, but that they don’t typically cover inmate’s cells.
- Epstein’s death is not the end of the investigation into his alleged sex trafficking crimes — in fact, investigators are widening the probe to look at those who facilitated Epstein’s alleged crimes, including a staff of recruiters and employees who helped procure underage girls for him.
- The probe is also likely to investigate politicians and celebrities who have been accused by victims of also abusing underage girls. In 2016, one of Epstein’s alleged victims, Virginia Giuffre, accused financier Glenn Dubin, former Sen. George Mitchell, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, and MIT scientist Marvin Minsky, who is now dead, of sexual abuse.
- "Glenn and Eva Dubin are outraged by the allegations against them in the unsealed court records and categorically reject them," a spokesperson for Glenn Dubin said.
- “The main fact that the head of the conspiracy has been lopped off or died does not negate the fact that [others] can be charged,” Murray Richman, a longtime criminal defense lawyer, told the Guardian. “Conspiracy is a secret agreement between two or more persons. They can focus on one person being the ringleader of that conspiracy but nevertheless, the other persons are involved in that conspiracy.”
Cover: In this courtroom artist's sketch, defendant Jeffrey Epstein, center, sits with attorneys Martin Weinberg, left, and Marc Fernich during his arraignment in New York federal court, Monday, July 8, 2019. Epstein pleaded not guilty to federal sex trafficking charges. The 66-year-old is accused of creating and maintaining a network that allowed him to sexually exploit and abuse dozens of underage girls from 2002 to 2005. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)