By Sean Jackson
On Saturday, August 10th officials from the Metropolitan Correctional Center announced that Jeffrey Epstein, a multimillionaire on trial for federal sex trafficking charges, abruptly died after being found unresponsive in his cell. The details on the circumstances of Epstein’s death are still inconclusive and information is sparse as medical professionals are suspected to give more information about how the high-profile financier met his end.
Epstein’s death may cut short the release of details surrounding his current case involving the trafficking and abuse of under-aged girls, as well as the details surrounding more individuals involved. He was denied bail and faced up to 45 years if found guilty. The millionaire pleaded not guilty and was awaiting trial.
Epstein is often well known to have been highly connected with celebrities and powerful political figures, which help bolster public interest in the case. His arrest on July 6th was highly publicized when details came to light of a 2008 case where he pled guilty to soliciting a minor in Florida to avoid serious federal charges.
Last week, a document containing over 2,000 pages was released related to a settled lawsuit between Epstein and ex-girlfriend Virginia Giuffre who accused him of sex crimes. The records had graphic accounts against Epstein, as well at the transcript of a deposition where Epstein refused to answer questions as not to incriminate himself.
The Associated Press reported that although the millionaire was placed on suicide watch after being found in his jail cell two weeks ago with bruises on his neck, he was subsequently taken off the watch at the end of July. Jack Donson, a former prison official who worked for the Bureau of prisons for more than two decades, stated that Epstein’s removal from suicide watch would have had to been approved by both the warden and the facility’s chief psychologist.
A person familiar with the prison spoke with Fox News, suggesting that Epstein had not been checked up on for “several hours” despite being required to be checked in on every 30 minutes. Additionally, Epstein was assigned a cellmate, but the individual was transferred out of the cell on Friday. Epstein was located in the Special Housing Unit, a heavily secured portion of the Manhattan based jail that separates general population from high-profile inmates.
Dr. Barbara Sampson, New York City’s chief medical examiner, made a statement on Sunday about Epstein’s autopsy where she said it was “pending further information” before she could come to a full determination.
Epstein’s lawyers requested that Sampson allow a private pathologist, Dr. Michael Baden, to observe the examination. Sampson stated that federal prosecutors were aware of Dr. Baden’s presence, saying it was “routine practice.”
Baden, who was New York City’s chief medical examiner in the late 1970s has been an expert witness on multiple high-profile cases including the Forensics Pathology Panel that investigated the assassination of JFK, gave testimony at the trial of O.J. Simpson, and was hired to conduct the autopsy of Michael Brown. Currently Baden runs a private forensic pathology consulting practice.
Dr. Joe Cohen, a pathologist who worked for NYC’s medical examiner’s office, said that it’s not unusual that Sampson didn’t release a cause of death in this case, stating, “They don’t want to jump to conclusions or rush to a judgment.”
While Epstein’s death certainly makes it more difficult for prosecutors to continue pursuing charges, the federal investigation of allegations are still ongoing. U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman noted in a statement Saturday that Epstein’s indictment includes a conspiracy charge, which suggests others may still face charges in the case.