US attorney: Epstein abuse probe steadfast despite his death

  • In this 2008 file photo, Jeffrey Epstein appears in court in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Palm Beach Post, Uma Sanghvi, File)

NEW YORK — The FBI and the Justice Department’s inspector general’s office will investigate how Jeffrey Epstein died in an apparent suicide Saturday, while the probe into sexual abuse allegations against the well-connected financier remains ongoing, officials said.

Epstein, accused of orchestrating a sex-trafficking ring and sexually abusing dozens of underage girls, had been taken off suicide watch before he killed himself in a New York jail, a person familiar with the matter said.

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Attorney General William Barr, in announcing the investigation, said he was “appalled” to learn of Epstein’s death while in federal custody.

“Mr. Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered,” Barr said in a statement.

Epstein was found unresponsive in his cell Saturday morning at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Fire officials received a call at 6:39 a.m. Saturday that Epstein was in cardiac arrest, and he was pronounced dead at New York Presbyterian-Lower Manhattan Hospital.

Epstein, 66, had been denied bail and faced up to 45 years behind bars on federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges unsealed last month. He had pleaded not guilty and was awaiting trial.

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The federal investigation into the allegations remains steadfast, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said. He noted in a statement Saturday that the indictment against Epstein includes a conspiracy charge, suggesting others could face charges in the case.

Epstein had been placed on suicide watch and given daily psychiatric evaluations after an incident a little over two weeks ago in which he was found with bruising on his neck, according to the person familiar with the matter who wasn’t authorized to discuss it publicly. It hasn’t been confirmed whether the injury was self-inflicted or the result of an assault. Epstein was taken off suicide watch at the end of July, the person said.

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