Jeffrey Epstein was taken off suicide watch before apparently taking his own life in his Manhattan jail cell on Saturday, a person familiar with the matter has told The Associated Press, under condition of anonymity.
The wealthy financier awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges was found hanged in his cell in the Metropolitan Correctional Center around 7:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, the New York Times said.
He was transported to a nearby hospital, where he died, according to a statement by the Metropolitan Correctional Center.
Epstein had been placed on suicide watch after he was found nearly unconscious two weeks ago with injuries around his neck. He has been held in a Manhattan jail without bail since July 6, awaiting trial on multiple felony charges of sex trafficking of girls as young as 14.
Epstein’s attorney and the U.S. Attorney’s office handling the case did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Attorney General William Barr Saturday said he was “appalled” by Epstein’s “apparent suicide while in federal custody” that “raises serious questions that must be answered.” Barr said in a statement. The AG said that he consulted with the Inspector General, who is opening an investigation into the circumstances of Epstein’s death.
Federal prosecutors have said that Epstein sexually abused dozens of underage girls between 2002 and 2005, and paid many of them to recruit others. Investigators also said they found “nude photographs of what appear to be underage girls” during a search of his mansion after his arrest. He had pleaded not guilty to the charges but faced 35 years in prison if convicted.
Over a decade ago, Epstein pleaded guilty in Florida to soliciting a minor for prostitution. He served 13 months of an 18-month sentence and was released in 2009.
After the new federal charges against Epstein and the renewed public scrutiny over that plea deal, the Florida federal prosecutor who negotiated the deal, Alexander Acosta, resigned as Labor Secretary in the Trump administration.
The case has also embroiled other powerful men who publicly associated with Epstein over the years, from Donald Trump to Bill Clinton to attorney Alan Dershowitz and Prince Andrew.
On Friday, some 2,000 legal documents were unsealed in Manhattan federal court related to a defamation suit brought by Virginia Giuffre, a self-identified “sex slave” of Epstein’s, against his longtime companion, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell.
The documents, which include depositions, police reports, flight logs and even a young woman’s memoir, offered new details of sexual abuse accusations against Epstein and several of his associates.