Epstein’s death was suicide, medical examiner rules

Jeffrey Epstein's prison death has been ruled suicide by hanging, the medical examiner's office in New York said Friday.

Epstein, 66, was found dead in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Centre in New York City on August 10.

His death prompted outrage and disbelief over how such a high-profile prisoner, known for socialising with powerful people including presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, could have gone unwatched.

The Bureau of Prisons said Epstein had apparently killed himself, but that did not stop conspiracy theories about his death.

Epstein, who was charged with sexually abusing numerous underage girls over several years, had been placed on suicide watch last month after he was found on his cell floor on July 23.

But many people familiar with operations at the jail say he was taken off the watch after about a week and put back in a high-security housing unit where he was less closely monitored, but still supposed to be checked on every 30 minutes.

Jeffrey Epstein
Jeffrey Epstein had been placed on suicide watch last month (New York State Sex Offender Registry/AP)

Attorney general William Barr says officials have uncovered "serious irregularities" at the jail.

The FBI and the Justice Department's inspector general are both investigating Epstein's death.

Jail guards on duty the night of Epstein's death are suspected of falsifying log entries to show they were checking on inmates every half-hour as required, according to several people familiar with the matter.

A guard in Epstein's unit was working a fifth straight day of overtime and another guard was working mandatory overtime, the people said.

US district judge Richard Berman, who is in charge of the criminal case against Epstein, asked the jail's warden this week for answers about the earlier episode, writing in a letter Monday that it had "never been definitively explained".

The warden replied that an internal investigation was completed but that he could not provide information because the findings were being incorporated into investigations into Epstein's death.

The medical examiner's ruling came a day after two more women sued Jeffrey Epstein's estate, saying he sexually abused them.

The suit, filed Thursday in a federal court in New York, claims the women were working as hostesses at a popular Manhattan restaurant in 2004 when they were recruited to give Epstein massages.

One was 18 at the time. The other was 20.

The lawsuit says an unidentified female recruiter offered the hostesses hundreds of dollars to provide massages to Epstein, saying he "liked young, pretty girls to massage him", and would not engage in any unwanted touching. The women say Epstein groped them anyway.

One plaintiff now lives in Japan, the other in the US. They seek 100 million dollars in damages, citing depression, anxiety, anger and flashbacks.

Other lawsuits, filed over many years by other women, accused him of hiring girls as young as 14 or 15 to give him massages, then subjecting them to sex acts.

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