Epstein takes sex ring secrets to grave after suicide in cell
Paedophile financier’s death prompts calls for criminal investigation to continue
JEFFREY EPSTEIN, the disgraced financier charged with child sex trafficking, took his secrets to the grave after apparently hanging himself in a prison cell yesterday while awaiting trial.
The FBI launched an investigation into the death as a row erupted over how Epstein was allowed to cheat justice, with victims expressing anger at being denied their day in court.
Epstein’s death meant the full story of the potential connections of political figures and celebrities to his alleged sex ring may never be told.
His lawyers initially refused to rule out foul play, fueling conspiracy theories that Epstein’s death will silence further damaging revelations.
Epstein, 66, died the day after documents were released in a civil case in which Virginia Giuffre, who claimed to have been his teenage “sex slave,” had sued Ghislaine Maxwell, 57, Epstein’s former girlfriend, for defamation.
Mrs Giuffre, now 35, had claimed to have had sex with the Duke of York when she was 17. The Duke has always denied the allegations, which were struck from court record in 2015 after being described as “immaterial and im
‘We are hopeful that the government will focus on those who facilitated Epstein’s sex trafficking’
pertinent” by the judge.
Epstein was found unresponsive in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan at 6.30am yesterday. It was “an apparent suicide”, the US department of justice said.
Prison officials tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate him, and he was taken to New York Presbyterian-Lower Manhattan Hospital an hour later. He was pronounced dead on arrival.
Bill Barr, the US attorney general, was said to be “livid and appalled”. He said the death “raises serious questions that must be answered”.
Mrs Giuffre’s lawyer called for investigations into associates of Epstein to continue. Sigrid McCawley said: “We are hopeful that the government will continue to investigate, and will focus on those who participated and facilitated Epstein’s horrifying sex trafficking scheme that damaged so many.”
Epstein had previously been found with bruises on his neck on July 25.
He had been in a shared cell with an inmate called Nicholas Tartaglione, a former police officer charged with murder, but it was unclear whether they were still in the same cell.
Epstein was in a high security unit, where prison officers were supposed to check all prisoners every 30 minutes, but the procedure was reportedly not followed on the night Epstein died.
The jail also had the capacity to video monitor a prisoner constantly but it was not clear if that was done.
AS NEWS spread yesterday about the suspected suicide of Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire paedophile, his victims had no appetite for the truth of his sordid activities to die with him.
Questions quickly began to be asked about what his death in a Manhattan prison cell would mean for them as well as any alleged accomplices.
His death is expected to bring to an end the long-running inquiries into the sex-trafficking ring he had operated for so long with apparent immunity.
US federal prosecutors last month charged Epstein, 66, with sex trafficking of girls as young as 14, raising hopes a trial would finally bring justice to women such as Jennifer Araoz.
She claimed last month that Epstein had raped her at the age of 15, after she was groomed by a woman who had approached her on the tycoon’s behalf outside her New York City high school.
Now Ms Araoz says the quest for justice must continue, insisting that those who she claims aided and abetted Epstein must be brought to trial.
In a statement, Ms Araoz said: “Epstein is gone, but justice must still be served. I hope the authorities will pursue and prosecute his accomplices and enablers, and ensure redress for his victims.”
Among those accused in court papers of aiding and abetting Epstein’s sexual exploitation of under-age girls is Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of the disgraced newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell. More documents are set to be released tomorrow and there is speculation that gagging orders signed by Epstein employees may now be lifted.
There is growing pressure for Ms Maxwell, 57, to answer claims in the US that she was at the centre of Epstein’s sex trafficking operation. Ms Maxwell has always denied the claims calling them “fictitious lies and stories”.
Previously sealed legal documents released by a federal court on Friday – less than 24 hours before Epstein took his own life – outlined disturbing allegations that he and Miss Maxwell pro
cured hundreds of girls and young women from around the world for sex with them and powerful leaders and politicians, including the Duke of York. The Duke categorically denies any suggestion of impropriety with minors and all the allegations made against him were struck out by the court in 2015. A Florida state senator told The Sun
day Telegraph that Ms Maxwell should “absolutely” be brought to the US for questioning. Democrat Lauren Book said: “In life and in death, Jeffrey Epstein did everything he could to escape accountability and silence survivors. And he didn’t do it alone. All the money in the world can’t erase the truth. There are still questions to be asked and individuals to be held accountable.”
Ms Book, herself a sexual assault survivor, said she expected more women to come forward with accusations. Epstein’s death is likely to raise questions about what happens to sex trafficking charges, which he denied, and how someone reportedly on suicide watch was able to take their own life.
The news has given rise to widespread speculation on social media among conspiracy theorists pointing how apparently convenient his death might be to those who were accused of operating in tandem with Epstein.
Legal commentators said his death need not stop the investigation, with some pointing out that police can now search his estate and properties without applying for a search warrant.
Epstein avoided federal criminal charges in 2008 after prosecutors brokered a deal that allowed him to plea to solicitation of prostitution from a minor and serve 13 months in jail.
Among the most explosive claims in witness statements and depositions forming part of the 2,000 pages of court documents is that Ms Maxwell procured 17-year-old Virginia Roberts Giuffre for the Duke of York to have sex with him at her town house in London, something he categorically denied.
In another claim in the documents it is alleged that in 2001 the Duke touched the breast of a young woman called Johanna Sjoberg, then 21, while the group was at Epstein’s home. A judge described Ms Giuffre’s claims about the Duke of York as “immaterial and impertinent” in 2015.
The material in the documents released on Friday was gathered as part of a defamation suit brought by Ms Giuffre against Ms Maxwell that was settled for an undisclosed sum in 2017.
Some of the other prominent figures Ms Giuffre claims in the documents that she was told to have sex with include Bill Richardson, 71, the former New Mexico governor, former senator George Mitchell, 85, Tom Pritzker, 69, the Hyatt hotels magnate, and Alan Dershowitz, 80, Epstein’s lawyer.
All the men named by Ms Giuffre have issued denials, with some of them, including Dershowitz, insisting that they had never met her.
No charges have been filed against anyone other than Epstein.
The documents allege that Ms Maxwell assisted Epstein in luring young girls from schools, colleges and spas around Palm Beach County to provide sexual services for him and his guests.
In a sworn statement, Ms Maxwell refused to answer questions about whether she saw Epstein with any under age girls. She denied that she ever had sex with Ms Giuffre, calling her a liar
Under questioning Ms Maxwell stated: “Again, Virginia is absolutely totally lying. This is a subject of defamation about Virginia and the lies she has told.”
Her lawyers did not respond to requests for comment and there was no response at her home in Belgravia, central London.
The Duke of York has repeatedly denied Ms Giuffre’s allegations. A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “Any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue.”
‘I hope the authorities will prosecute his accomplices and enablers, and ensure redress for his victims’
Jeffrey Epstein, 66, was found dead in his prison cell in a special high security unit in Manhattan at 6.30am yesterday
Jeffrey Epstein, left, in 2000 with Donald Trump and his girlfriend (and future wife) Melania Knauss, and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell above, Epstein with the Duke of York; top right, Jennifer Araoz claims Epstein raped her when she was just 15; right, protesters outside court in New York last month