Jeffrey Epstein, accused sex trafficker with ties to Washington elites, was found dead in his jail cell of an apparent suicide. Two weeks ago, Epstein was found semi-conscious with injuries to his neck. Authorities never ruled whether that was the result of a suicide attempt or an attack by a guard or fellow inmate. Epstein had pleaded not guilty to charges relating to the alleged sex trafficking, which took place between 2002 and 2005, and was awaiting trial. Just a day prior to his death, thousands of documents were unsealed naming a former US Senator of Maine, a former Governor of New Mexico, and the British Duke of York Prince Andrew as potential sexual predators.
Epstein was very successful professionally, leading to his association with the world’s economic and political elite, before a 2008 conviction for felony solicitation of prostitution involving a minor landed him an 18-month prison sentence, of which he served 13 months. He was facing up to 45 years in prison for various charges including child pornography and sex trafficking. The Epstein case was politicized due to his connections to many powerful people on both sides of the aisle, including current President Donald Trump (who once called Epstein a “terrific guy” who was “a lot of fun to be with”) and former president Bill Clinton (who rode multiple times on the plane Epstein takes to his private islands where some speculate a great deal of his sex trafficking occurred). Both have distanced themselves from Epstein since 2008. Criticism of the 2008 plea deal also led to the resignation of Trump’s Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, who was the US Attorney in Miami who presided over the deal.
The counsel of the central victim, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, released a statement calling the suicide “unfortunate and predictable.” The attorney, Brad Edwards, also said: “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.” Still, Edwards closed with optimism, saying “We will continue to represent his victims and will not stop in their pursuit of finality and justice.”