Jeffrey Epstein has been pronounced dead after being found unconscious in his New York City jail cell early Saturday, the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed. He was 66.
An investigation is underway, a spokesperson told HuffPost. Some members of Congress, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) have already begun demanding answers.
The multimillionaire financier, who was awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking underage girls, died from apparent suicide at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, where he was being held without bail following his July 6 arrest.
In his decision to keep Epstein behind bars, Judge Richard Berman sided with prosecutors who deemed him to be a danger to the community and an “extraordinary flight risk,” considering that Epstein owned several properties and a private plane.
Epstein pleaded not guilty to charges of sex trafficking underage girls and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. If convicted, Epstein would have faced up to 45 years in prison
He was held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a fortresslike structure in downtown Manhattan that has been criticized by human rights advocates for its conditions. According to The New York Times, one prisoner who had stayed at both MCC and the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison said Guantanamo was nicer. The Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was held at the same facility for more than two years prior to his July sentencing.
Epstein was ordered to register as a sex offender following his 2008 conviction in Florida on an underage prostitution charge. A plea deal widely criticized for its leniency required Epstein to spend 13 months at a Palm Beach jail ― but he was held in a private wing and permitted to leave for up to 12 hours each day, six days per week on a work permit.
A series of articles in The Miami Herald about the controversial deal, which was kept secret from Epstein’s accusers until after it was signed, renewed public outrage over the case of the privileged financier
A trove of court documents involving one of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, was unsealed Friday, containing rafts of allegations against him, his longtime associate Ghislaine Maxwell and other powerful men.
Please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.