Financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was facing federal sex trafficking charges, died Saturday from an apparent suicide, federal officials said. The federal Bureau of Prisons said in a statement the FBI was investigating his death.
Epstein, 66, was found unresponsive in his cell at a holding facility in New York City at around 6:30 a.m., according to the statement. Staff at the Metropolitan Correctional Center tried to revive him, and he was eventually taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The New York City medical examiner’s office was also investigating Epstein’s cause of death, a spokesperson told CBS News, and will conduct an autopsy and toxicology test to determine the cause. Federal prosecutors in New York alleged Epstein abused dozens of underage girls as young as 14.
Epstein was found injured on the floor of his cell in late July. At the time, law enforcement sources told CBS News Epstein was found semi-conscious with slight bruising around his neck.
Epstein was charged last month with one count of sex trafficking conspiracy and one count of sex trafficking with underage females. He pleaded not guilty.
The indictment came 11 years after Epstein cut a deal with attorneys in Florida to avoid a similar charge. “Over the course of many years, Jeffrey Epstein, the defendant, sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls at his homes in Manhattan, New York, and Palm Beach, Florida, among other locations,” the indictment reads.
Congresswoman Jackie Speier calls for investigation
“Jeffrey Epstein was a serial child molester who evaded accountability because he was rich, powerful, and well-connected,” Congresswoman Jackie Speier said in a statement. “His suicide doesn’t change that. We need answers as to how this could have happened. Most importantly, we need justice for his victims.”
Speier, a co-chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus and member of the House Oversight Committee, pointed to Epstein’s connections to people in power and said more investigation is needed.
“A cache of documents unsealed yesterday shows Epstein had a vast network of young girls he abused and trafficked and that he was aided and abetted by law enforcement, prosecutors, and others who looked the other way. Their complicity in his crimes didn’t just fail these young girls in their bid for justice, it was a further violation of their trust and lives,” the statement says.
“With the criminal proceedings against Epstein over, it is time for the Committee on Oversight and Reform to conduct an investigation as to how this preferential plea deal happened in the first place. Epstein’s crimes were not contained to him. Congress has a duty to ensure all those who played a role in this travesty of justice answer to those crimes. The survivors of Epstein’s exploitation demand and deserve nothing less.”
An attorney who has represented more than a dozen women accusing Epstein of sexual abuse called the apparent suicide “unfortunate and predictable.”
“While we engaged in contentious legal battles for more than a decade, this is not the ending anyone was looking for,” Brad Edwards said in a statement. “The victims deserved to see Epstein held accountable, and he owed it to everyone he hurt to accept responsibility for all of the pain he caused.”
“We will continue to represent his victims and will not stop in their pursuit of finality and justice,” Edwards said. In a statement on Twitter, Lisa Bloom, who represents three accusers, said civil cases would continue.
“Predator Jeffrey Epstein killed himself. On behalf of the victims I represent, we would have preferred he lived to face justice. Our civil cases can still proceed against his estate. Victims deserve to be made whole for the lifelong damage he caused. We’re just getting started.”
Bloom later posted to Twitter a statement from one of her clients. “I will never have a sense of closure now,” the statement said. “I’m angry as hell that the prison could have allowed this to happen and that I and his other victims will never see him face the consequences for his horrendous actions. I hope that whoever allowed this to happen, also faces some type of consequence. You stole from us, the huge piece of healing that we needed to move on with our lives.”