Attorney General William Barr said Monday he learned of “serious irregularities” at the Manhattan prison where accused child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein died Saturday.
Barr vowed that the investigation will continue and warned that Epstein’s co-conspirators “should not rest easy.”
Dr. Barbara Sampson, New York City’s chief medical examiner, said Sunday evening an autopsy had been completed and that the medical examiner’s final determination is pending further information.
Barr, speaking at an event for the Fraternal Order of Police in New Orleans this morning, said that he was “appalled” to learn of Epstein’s apparent suicide and revealed the Justice Department was “learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation.” The Bureau of Prisons said Saturday that Epstein was found dead in his cell that morning.
He promised that Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz and the FBI, who are both investigating the circumstances surrounding Epstein’s death, will “get to the bottom of what happened.”
Barr also said “there will be accountability” for those who did not do their jobs properly.
Questions remain about why Epstein was reportedly taken off suicide watch despite allegedly being found nearly unconscious on his cell floor with marks on his neck in July, as well as about why such a high-profile prisoner wasn’t being closely monitored.
Barr said that the Justice Department would continue its investigation of Epstein’s alleged child trafficking conspiracy despite his death.
“Any co-conspirators should not rest easy. The victims deserve justice, and they will get it,” he said.
Prosecutors believe that Epstein had help committing his crimes, and there are believed to be many other alleged Epstein victims. The 14-page indictment unsealed in July references co-conspirators.
Epstein, the already convicted sex offender and jet-setting financier, was alleged to have “sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls” at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida, among other locations, between 2002 and 2005 and perhaps beyond. Prosecutors claimed Epstein “enticed and recruited” minor girls to “engage in sex acts with him” and built a “vast network of underage victims.”
Prosecutors alleged that an unnamed “New York-based employee” and two unnamed assistants in Palm Beach would help with scheduling some of these encounters, and that Epstein would also contact some of the victims directly. Investigators allege Epstein conspired with others to traffic minors for sex.
Prosecutors said Saturday that their investigation “remains ongoing.”
Epstein’s apparent suicide followed the unsealing on Friday of 2,000 pages of court records connected to the defamation lawsuit brought by Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre against British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, whom Giuffre has accused of helping Epstein abuse her and others when Giuffre was underage. The records included allegations by Giuffre that Maxwell instructed her to have sex with the U.K.’s Prince Andrew, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, and former Sen. George Mitchell, among other high-profile figures.
Epstein’s arrest in July marked the second time he had been investigated for sex crimes. Alex Acosta, the former U.S. attorney for Southern Florida who resigned as Trump’s labor secretary, reached a controversial agreement in 2008 with Epstein’s attorneys in which Epstein was allowed to plead guilty to two state-level prostitution solicitation charges.
Epstein served just 13 months in a Palm Beach County jail with work release, paid some restitution, and registered as a sex offender. The secret agreement was reportedly struck before investigators finished interviewing all the alleged victims. And that sweetheart deal included criminal immunity for a number of potential co-conspirators of Epstein.