Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his prison cell in New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center on Saturday (10 August 2019).
Some weeks prior, he had been found semi-conscious in his cell with injuries to his neck and had been placed on suicide watch. However, prison officials allegedly reported that Epstein had been taken off suicide watch prior to his death. The cause of his earlier injuries were never clarified by prison officials who claimed not to “share information on an inmate’s medical status or their conditions of confinement”.
Epstein was due to stand trial, accused of sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. He had pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
He was previously charged with unlawful sex acts with a minor in 2006, and he entered into a subsequent plea deal where he pleaded guilty to two charges of soliciting prostitution, including with a minor. Alex Acosta, who was then the US Attorney in Miami, was involved with the plea deal. He has since resigned from his post as labour secretary after Epstein was charged with further offences last month.
Whilst conspiracy theories abound, the New York City’s chief medical examiner commented that whilst an autopsy had been carried out, a cause of death had not yet been determined “pending further information”. A spokesman for the Justice Department’s inspector general advised it was practice “not to comment on ongoing investigations”.
Epstein’s death will be unlikely to bring this matter to an end. The US Attorney in Manhattan has confirmed they are continuing to explore those who might have conspired with Epstein. Those who alleged abuse will no doubt continue their pursuit for justice. Lawyers for the victims have already indicated they will be filing civil claims against Epstein’s estate, made possible by the Child Victims Act which comes into force today (see BLM’s earlier blog post on this Act here). There will no doubt be more revelations to come and in the post #MeToo world regard should be had not just to NDAs not being suitable but also to how prosecutors view charges and how plea deals are agreed.
Written by Amanda Munro at BLM