- Disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein died of apparent suicide Saturday morning while awaiting trial.
- The criminal case against Epstein has ended, but other investigations into co-conspirators and enablers can continue.
- There might be a battle over Epstein’s estate, and some lawyers representing accusers have already announced they will be targeting it.
Disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein died in jail of an apparent suicide Saturday morning, but that doesn’t mean everything is over for the case and his accusers.
Epstein was arrested July 6 for charges including the alleged sex-trafficking of minors. A convicted sex offender, Epstein was first found almost unconscious in his cell July 23, a week after being denied bail. He had marks on his neck and was placed on suicide watch, but was taken off within a week, according to The Washington Post.
He was found unresponsive Saturday morning around 6:30 a.m. Epstein was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead shortly after. The guards who were supposed to be watching Epstein reportedly failed to do so because both were working overtime, the president of the local union for jail staffers told The Washington Post.
Attorney General Bill Barr said Saturday there would be an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the apparent suicide, according to his statement. The FBI is also investigating the death, and the inspector general will be opening a separate investigation as well, Barr said.
“Mr. Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered,” Barr said.
Epstein’s death comes a day after documents detailed alleged sexual abuse were unsealed
Epstein’s death came one day after hundreds of documents were unsealed that detailed sexual abuse allegations against Epstein and several others. The documents are from a settled defamation case between Ghislaine Maxwell, an associate of Epstein’s, and Virginia Giuffre, who said she became Epstein’s sex slave and was trafficked at age 17, ABC News reported.
The documents name former Democratic New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, former Democratic Maine Sen. George Mitchell, Prince Andrew and others as being involved. They have all denied the allegations.
The criminal case against Epstein has ended, but investigations will continue
The criminal case has ended because of Epstein’s death, but investigators can still look into others who have been accused of being involved with the sex-trafficking. Lawyers for Epstein’s accusers said they will continue seeking justice and go after any potential enablers, according to WaPo.
“There’s a whole network that enabled him and allowed this to happen and it’s time that everyone who was a part of this be held accountable,” Kimberly Lerner, an attorney for one of Epstein’s accusers, said, according to WaPo.
At least one of Epstein’s accusers plans to continue on with a lawsuit against Epstein’s estate, according to ABC News. Jennifer Araoz accused Epstein of raping her when she was 15, and said through a lawyer that the case will move forward against both Epstein and his enablers.
“This week, we intend to pursue justice for our client, Jennifer Araoz, and hold accountable those who enabled Mr. Epstein’s criminal activity,” said Dan Kaiser, Araoz’s lawyer. “Regardless of his untimely death, our case will move forward. Jennifer deserves her day in court.”
What happens to Epstein’s estate?
Epstein wasn’t married and has a brother, Mark, as well as a niece and nephew. The status of Epstein’s will isn’t yet known, but lawyers for his accusers are targeting Epstein’s estate.
The federal indictment filed against Epstein when he was arrested in July listed his New York City property to be confiscated after finding evidence that he abused girls there between 2002 and 2005, according to the Miami Herald. Epstein also had homes in Florida, New Mexico, the Virgin Islands and France.
Since Epstein is dead, a criminal forfeiture of his assets is no longer possible, but authorities could file a civil forfeiture case to get the properties. Accusers can also sue Epstein’s estate in court.
Lisa Bloom, an attorney for three of the alleged victims, tweeted Saturday that she would be asking Epstein’s estate to freeze all of his assets. She “intends to fight” to get Epstein’s entire estate given to his alleged victims, according to a tweet.
I am calling today for the administrators of Jeffrey Epstein’s estate to freeze all his assets and hold them for his victims who are filing civil cases. Their lives have been shattered by his sexual assaults, their careers derailed. They deserve full and fair compensation NOW.
— Lisa Bloom (@LisaBloom) August 10, 2019
Epstein had no known children, but Morse Genealogical Services, a genealogical research firm, is asking anyone who may have been fathered by the multimillionaire to contact them. If it is determined that Epstein had children, they could be entitled to a portion of the estate.
“We have reason to believe that based on his [Epstein’s] behavior that there may be some unidentified children that are out there and as such, they would likely be entitled to claim against the estate,” said Ari Morse, a representative of the organization, the Miami Herald reported.
His autopsy results were expected to be released Sunday afternoon, but New York City chief medical examiner Barbara Sampson said the results are “pending further information,” according to The Washington Post.
The 66-year-old had pleaded not guilty and would have faced up to 45 years in prison if convicted.
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