Jail guards were supposed to check Jeffrey Epstein, the millionaire financier facing sex trafficking charges for allegedly abusing dozens of minor girls, in his cell every 30 minutes, but failed to follow the procedure, which allowed him to hang himself.
In addition, the jail had transferred his cellmate and allowed Epstein to be housed alone in a cell just two weeks after he had been taken off suicide watch, a violation of regular procedure, the New York Times reported on Sunday.
Epstein, 66, was found unresponsive in his jail cell early Saturday morning at the Metropolitan Correction Centre in Manhattan. He was pronounced dead at New York Presbyterian-Lower Manhattan Hospital.
Last month, Epstein was found unconscious in his cell with bruises on his neck. When Epstein was removed from suicide watch, the jail informed the Justice Department that Epstein would have a cellmate and that a guard “would look into his cell” every 30 minutes, an unnamed law-enforcement official told the Times.
Epstein was set to face trial next year for his alleged offences in New York and Florida, which include paying and coercing girls as young as 14 into performing sexual acts.
Epstein’s suicide has spawned conspiracy theories online, including that Epstein was killed to keep him from incriminating others.
Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, whose current political comeback has been hampered by his ties to Epstein, told Israel’s Channel 13 he wished he had never met Epstein.
“Like many respectable people in the U.S., in retrospect, I would have preferred never to have made contact with him. But from the moment things became clear, that contact was immediately severed,” said Barak.