Jeffrey Epstein Found Dead In Jail After Sex Trafficking Arrest
US financier Jeffrey Epstein has been found unresponsive in his New York prison cell while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
WARNING: This article and video contain discussion of suicide.
Epstein was found unresponsive in his prison cell on Saturday morning at the Metropolitan Correctional Centre, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Officials said Epstein took his own life.
Firefighters received a call at 6.39am on Saturday that Epstein was in cardiac arrest, and he was pronounced dead in hospital.
The 66-year-old had been denied bail and faced up to 45 years behind bars on federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges unsealed last month. He had pleaded not guilty to accusations of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls.
United States Attorney General William Barr said he was "appalled" to learn of Epstein's death while in federal custody. He said the FBI and the Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General will investigate.
"Mr Epstein's death raises serious questions that must be answered," Barr said in a statement.
A little over two weeks ago, Epstein was found on the floor of his cell with injuries but it was not clear whether the injuries were self-inflicted or from an assault.
A person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press that Epstein had been taken off suicide watch.
The Bureau of Prisons confirmed he had been housed in the jail's Special Housing Unit, a heavily secured part of the facility that separates high profile inmates from the general population.
Former federal prison warden Cameron Lindsay said the death represents "an unfortunate and shocking failure, if proven to be a suicide".
On Friday more than 2000 pages of documents were released related to a since-settled lawsuit against Epstein's ex-girlfriend by Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein's accusers.
The records contain graphic allegations against Epstein, as well as the transcript of a 2016 deposition of Epstein in which he repeatedly refused to answer questions to avoid incriminating himself.
Giuffre's lawyer Sigrid McCawley said Epstein's suicide less than 24 hours after the documents were unsealed was not a coincidence.
McCawley called on federal authorities to continue their investigation, focusing on Epstein associates who she said "participated and facilitated Epstein's horrifying sex trafficking scheme".
"The victims await the true justice they have sought and deserve," McCawley said in a statement.
Other accusers and their lawyers reacted to the news with frustration that the financier won't have to face them in court.
"We have to live with the scars of his actions for the rest of our lives, while he will never face the consequences of the crimes he committed, the pain and trauma he caused so many people," accuser Jennifer Araoz said in a statement.
Before his legal troubles, Epstein led a life of extraordinary luxury and socialised with princes and presidents, living on a 40 hectare private island in the Caribbean and one of the biggest mansions in New York.
His friends over the years have included Donald Trump, Britain's Prince Andrew and former Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz.
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