DISCUSSION: Epstein's suicide leaves questions; here's what we know

After Jeffrey Epstein's apparent suicide in a Manhattan jail Saturday, many are left with unanswered questions.

Attorney General William Barr has called for an investigation.

  • Jason Carr hosted a special ClickOnDetroit discussion about this case. Watch the full segment above.

Here are the key points:

Jeffrey Epstein

  • Dead at 66
  • Billionaire financier
  • Arrested last month for allegedly sex trafficking dozens of minors in New York and Florida between 2002 and 2005
  • Over a decade ago, was accused of trafficking underage girls for sex at his Palm Beach mansion
  • A Miami Herald report last year revealed that Epstein was given a plea deal by former Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta (resigned after Epstein’s 2019 arrest), who was then Miami’s top federal prosecutor.
  • In June 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty to one count of solicitation of prostitution and one count of solicitation of prostitution with a minor.
  • The Herald investigation showed that Epstein’s attorneys, including Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz, created the secret plea deal with Acosta unbeknownst to Epstein’s alleged victims.
  • Epstein served 13 months of an 18 month prison sentence.
  • Hundreds of emails showed that Acosta and other prosecutors worked with Epstein’s team to conceal the plea deal from the public.
  • In February 2019, the Justice Department opened an investigation into federal prosecutors’ handling of the plea deal.

Epstein’s death

  • Epstein died Saturday after apparently hanging himself with a bedsheet in a Manhattan cell, officials say.
  • Bureau of Prisons: Lifesaving measures were initiated immediately by responding staff before Epstein was transported to a hospital and declared dead.
  • Epstein was found last month unconscious in his cell with bruising around his neck. The incident was investigated as a possible suicide.
  • Epstein was placed on suicide watch following the incident, but was taken off 11 days before his death.

In Short-Staffed Jail, Epstein Was Left Alone for Hours; Guard Was Substitute [article]

  • AG William Barr on Monday criticized management of the jail.
  • Barr: “We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation.”
  • Epstein’s suicide will not halt the investigation into other people who might have helped him traffic teenage girls for sex, Barr says.
  • On Monday, FBI agents and detectives raided Epstein’s private island in the US Virgin Islands.
  • Prison and law enforcement officials spoke to the NYT on condition of anonymity:
    • No correctional officer had checked on Epstein for several hours before he was found. Guards are supposed to look in on prisoners every half-hour.
    • Only one of two people guarding Epstein’s unit normally worked as a correctional officer.
    • According to NYT, this is part of a larger problem where jails are understaffed with correctional officers, and support staff are often put into these positions with minimal training.

Statements from politicians

  • Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla.: “The victims of Jeffrey Epstein’s heinous actions deserved an opportunity for justice…The Federal Bureau of Prisons must provide answers”
  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.: “We need answers. Lots of them.”
  • Rep. Al Green, D-Texas: “The suicide of Mr. Epstein is an impossibilty…Because the public has a right to know, I’m calling for a congressional investigation.”

Many asking questions/stoking conspiracy theories

  • Why was Epstein taken off suicide watch?
  • Trump retweets Epstein conspiracy theory, claiming Clinton connection [ article ]
    • Tweet came from Terrence K. Williams, a conservative commentator and comedian
    • Williams: “Died of SUICIDE on 24/7 SUICIDE WATCH ? Yeah right! How does that happen,” along with a video.
    • Epstein was no longer on suicide watch when he died, according to officials.

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