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Epstein’s Final Escape From Justice

Epstein’s Final Escape From Justice


Attorney General William Barr vowed this week to “get to the bottom” of serial sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s apparent suicide inside a federal jail cell, as members of Congress demanded answers as to how the wealthy financier was left alone after a previous attempt to kill himself. The FBI opened an investigation into what Barr called “serious irregularities” at the Bureau of Prisons–run Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. Early reports suggest the two guards overseeing Epstein slept on their shifts, then falsified logs. Epstein had been placed on suicide watch July 23, when abrasions were found on his neck, then was taken off six days later at the request of his lawyers. Guards were still supposed to check on him every 30 minutes and house him with a roommate. But his roommate was transferred Friday night and not replaced. Hours later, Epstein was found dead, after apparently using a bedsheet tied to a top bunk to hang himself. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said Epstein’s “dark secrets” were “allowed to die with him,” and that “heads must roll.”



In the wake of Epstein’s death, President Trump provoked outrage when he retweeted a conservative comedian’s allegation that former President Bill Clinton somehow engineered the hanging because Epstein “had information” on him. A Clinton spokesperson said the former president “knows nothing” about Epstein’s crimes and had not spoken to him in “well over a decade.” Meanwhile, there were news reports that Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell—a British socialite described as his “procurer”—had boasted of possessing dirt on “an astonishing number” of rich and famous people, and even videotaped visitors to his infamous Caribbean island near St. Thomas. The FBI raided that island this week in search of evidence. About 80 women and girls, some as young as 14, have accused Epstein of raping or sexually abusing them.

While Epstein cheated justice with his death, “the investigations into his crimes, and those of others connected to him, must continue,” said The New York Times. Nothing short of a full accounting is required to restore faith in a system that too often tilts “toward the powerful at the expense of the vulnerable.” The public officials who have repeatedly failed Epstein’s victims are “long overdue” for a reckoning.

Trump is playing a “dangerous game” by peddling conspiracy theories, said the Miami Herald. Not only is the president—who socialized with Epstein in the 1990s and early 2000s and publicly called him “a terrific guy”— undercutting his own Justice Department’s investigation into Epstein’s death, he’s also “exploiting the unending pain” of Epstein’s victims to deliver another nonsensical partisan “rant to his base.”

Epstein’s death leaves prosecutors “with one prime target,” said Marc Fisher in The Washington Post. The Paris-born, Oxfordeducated Ghislaine Maxwell, 57, met Epstein less than a year after her father, a British publishing tycoon and member of Parliament, died $4 billion in debt. His victims say she became “the prime organizer” of his thrice-daily “massages” from underage girls recruited on the pretext they were auditioning for modeling jobs. In court documents released just before Epstein’s death, one of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, said Maxwell had recruited her and ordered her to have sex with Epstein and numerous famous friends, including Britain’s Prince Andrew.

“It shouldn’t be possible for a hideous monster” like Epstein “to game the American system of justice,” said Rich Lowry in National Review.com, but that’s exactly what he did. Again and again, the wealthy predator enjoyed “advantages and breaks unimaginable to anyone who didn’t jet around with influential friends.” His high-priced legal team got him a slap on the wrist for a 2002 guilty plea—and even just got him removed from suicide watch.

What a rare opportunity missed, said David Graham in The Atlantic.com. Since the 2008 financial crisis, Americans have been left feeling there are “two sets of rules: one for ordinary Americans and another for the rich and well connected.” Epstein’s recent arrest “looked like a chance to finally hold rotten elites to account,” with this pampered child rapist likely to spend the rest of his life in a jail cell. Instead, “his death represents one final escape from accountability.”

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