Jeffrey Epstein, an American billionaire arrested on charges of trafficking and juvenile delinquency, committed suicide Friday night in Manhattan’s prison cell, US media reported Saturday, citing prison authorities.
Epstein, 66, had already attempted suicide at the end of July and was found in his cell in a semi-unconscious state. The billionaire was kept under surveillance in his separate cell to prevent his suicide attempt.
According to The Washington Post, Epstein hanged himself. The man, who had excellent relationships with high-profile politicians, businessmen and celebrities in the art world, has been accused of disparaging dozens of underage girls over the years and forcing them to sexual services with others, including prominent politicians.
He is alleged to have set up a sex trafficking network, the case was covered by a Miami Herald newspaper in an investigative report series last November. The paper even called the “sex pyramid” the network Epstein had set up and operated. The man was “hunted” by himself in the shopping malls on the street for childhood and young girls, parting with his partner Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of the late press mogul Robert Maxwell, and partly helped by young girls. The teenagers were offered masseur “jobs” at Epstein’s Manhattan or Florida villas, and then paid the girls to recruit new girls.
Epstein had once been convicted of prostitution in Florida in 2007, but had only spent 13 months in jail, escaping federal indictment. The indictment was obscured, according to US press reports, he also worked for the secret services, but no specific details were published. One of the prosecuting attorneys was Alexander Acosta, the Trump administration’s labor minister, who was forced to resign a few weeks ago. When Acosta was questioned by journalists before his resignation, the minister said only that Epstein was a secret service man, but he did not want to go into details.
Since his arrest in July, more and more former victims have revealed themselves and testified about where and how the sex trade worked, and details of his billionaire dealings appear in the press one after another.
For example, it turned out that former President Bill Clinton had used Epstein’s private jet 26 times and had several visits to his private island – St.James in the Caribbean, which locals called only “pedophile island”. Donald Trump also appeared to Epstein, but it also turned out that when Trump noticed that Epstein was harassing young girls, he immediately banned him from his Florida estate and broke off contact with him. According to press reports, guests include Prince Andrew of York, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, American star lawyer Alan Dershowitz or film director Woody Allen.
Since his arrest in July, Epstein has been held in a Manhattan jail, and the judge has not allowed his bail release.