explainer

Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his jail cell. Now he will never be brought to justice.

Content warning: This article contains mentions of suicide and sexual abuse some readers may find triggering.

Two federal investigations have been launched into the death of disgraced multimillionaire financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who died of an apparent suicide in his jail cell in New York.

Epstein, 66, was found unresponsive in his cell at about 6.30am on Saturday, according to the Metropolitan Correctional Centre. Efforts to save him were initiated by prison staff and emergency medical services but he was pronounced dead at hospital, the prison’s statement said. The prison did not confirm the suicide but said the FBI was investigating the incident.

Epstein’s death comes a day after several documents providing more extensive details on how an alleged sex trafficking network operated between 2002 and 2005 were unsealed on Friday, August 9.

More on Epstein’s death below, post continues after video.

Video via ABC

The new information included descriptions of how he ordered an associate to lure girls as young as 14 to his homes in New York and Palm Beach, Florida, coerced them into sex and then used them to draw in other victims.

Epstein had been arrested on July 6 and was facing charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy.

Towards the end of July, Epstein, who had ties to numerous high-profile figures including US President Donald Trump, former president Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew, had reportedly been placed on suicide watch after a separate attempt made while in custody.

A lawyer for Epstein, Marc Fernich, said prosecutors, reporters and court officials have “blood on their hands” and “should be ashamed of their behaviour” following Epstein’s indictment last month on charges of sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy. He had pleaded not guilty and was denied bail three weeks ago.

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It remained unclear whether he was on suicide watch at the time of his death, though some US media including the New York Times reported the watch had been removed a few days ago.

In 2008, Epstein faced sex crime charges in Florida related to the alleged network, but made a deal with prosecutors that resulted in a relatively light prison sentence. Critics said the punishment was too lenient and victims’ advocates said it was done without the knowledge of the girls involved.

Prior to his death, The Quicky investigated the Jeffrey Epstein case. Post continues below audio.

Epstein served 13 months from 2008-2009 – not behind bars, but housed in the private wing of a Florida jail and allowed to leave for 12 hours a day, six days a week for work – after being convicted of two state prostitution charges involving a 17-year-old girl.

It was one of the most lenient sentences for serial sex offences in US history.

Epstein’s death is likely to trigger a raft of conspiracy theories involving his rich and famous former associates.

At the height of his success, Epstein counted the likes of Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Kevin Spacey, Woody Allen and Britain’s Prince Andrew among his social circle.

Epstein would often ferry his powerful friends between his luxury residences on his private jet – a plane that would later be dubbed the “Lolita Express” by the press. Despite his extreme wealth and glamorous friends, Epstein kept a relatively low profile until the first allegations of sexual abuse and grooming emerged in 2005.

Even after Epstein pleaded guilty to child prostitution charges in 2008, Prince Andrew refused to break off their friendship and they were photographed together following his release from prison. But in 2015, Prince Andrew was dragged deeper into the scandal when one of Epstein’s victims said she had been forced to have sex with Andrew on three occasions, when she was just 17. Buckingham Palace has repeatedly denied the claims.

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Epstein had ties to numerous high-profile figures including US President Donald Trump, former president Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew. Image: Getty.
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In a 2002 article, Trump made light of Epstein's penchant for young girls.

"I've known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy," Trump told New York Magazine.

"He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it – Jeffrey enjoys his social life."

Epstein's death now means he will never be brought to justice.

Lisa Bloom, a lawyer representing some of the women, claimed that Epstein's apparent suicide indicated that he knew he was guilty, and civil cases against his estate would proceed.

"He knew justice was coming and he could not face it," Bloom tweeted.

"Victims deserve to be made whole for the lifelong damage he caused."

— With AAP.

If this article has raised issues for your, please seek professional help and contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Suicide Callback Service on 1300 659 467. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.

For more on Jeffrey Epstein, read more below:

Jeffrey Epstein’s Australian victim, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, was just 16 when he allegedly groomed her.

Naked parties and massages: Inside Prince Andrew's close friendship with Jeffrey Epstein.

Courtney was 14, and still had braces, when Jeffrey Epstein asked her to give him a massage.

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