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Last month, multimillionaire financial investor Jeffrey Epstein was charged with sex trafficking offenses. The newest allegations against Epstein arrived more than a decade after he pled guilty to similar crimes, some involving minors, in Florida. The 13-month sentence that Epstein served for these crimes was a source of much controversy, as many claimed that the deal Epstein received from Miami’s U.S. Attorney was far too lenient.
Epstein’s newest charges, however, led to a far more dramatic outcome. On August 10, Epstein was found dead in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center. Epstein was 66 at the time of his passing, which appeared to be a suicide.
It didn’t take long for speculation to arise regarding the circumstances of Epstein’s death. Some people wondered how Epstein could have gone unwatched for long enough to commit suicide, especially in a prison that has housed notoriously violent criminals such as Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and infamous con artists such as Bernie Madoff.
Among these voices was President Donald J. Trump, who had once been friends with Epstein. Trump, who is known to make unfounded claims, took to Twitter to suggest that two of his most prominent political opponents conspired to murder Epstein and make his death appear as a suicide. Trump theorized that former president Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Clinton, who ran against Trump in the 2016 presidential election, were complicit in Epstein’s death. Although Epstein remained close with the Clintons until his passing, evidence has yet to emerge that the Clintons were involved in his death.
On August 17, one week after Epstein’s death, New York City’s Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Barbara Sampson, officially ruled Epstein’s death a suicide. In a statement, Sampson made it clear that her conclusion stems not just from the autopsy she conducted, but also a thorough investigation into the circumstances of his death.
Epstein took his own life less than 24 hours after a major revelation in the criminal case being pursued against him at the time of his death. Just prior to his suicide, 2,000 pages of documents taken from a lawsuit against one of his biggest confidantes were made public. The most incriminating portions of the documents included graphic sexual allegations against Epstein. Later research would discover that, in the 24 hours after this information went public, Metropolitan Correctional Center staff failed to properly monitor Epstein, who hanged himself with a bedsheet.
In the wake of Epstein’s death, his accusers will still get to make their stories heard. On August 27, several women who allege that Epstein sexually assaulted them were present at a Manhattan court. There, federal prosecutors requested that U.S. District Judge Richard Berman drop these women’s case against Epstein since the defendant is now dead and cannot be represented in court. Such a request is standard protocol following a defendant’s death.
Additionally, several women who have made accusations against Epstein have sued the multimillionaire’s estate following his death. Given the continuing legal actions against Epstein, it’s unlikely his name will disappear from the news anytime soon, even with Epstein dead.