Attorney General William Barr said Monday that there were “serious irregularities” at the federal jail in New York City where Jeffrey Epstein, the financier who was long dogged by accusations of sexual abuse of girls, was found dead on Saturday morning after he had apparently hanged himself.
“We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation,” Barr said. He did not elaborate on what problems he was referring to.
Epstein’s death came just two weeks after he had been taken off suicide watch at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, where he was being held awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, officials said.
Since leaving suicide watch July 29, Epstein had been housed in the Secure Housing Unit, one of the prison’s most secure wings, officials said, and was supposed to have been checked on by guards regularly.
Barr added: “I was appalled, and indeed the whole department was, and frankly angry, to learn of the MCC’s failure to adequately secure this prisoner.” He spoke at the Grand Lodge Fraternal Order of Police’s 64th National Biennial Conference in New Orleans.
Barr has asked the FBI and the Justice Department’s Inspector General to launch inquiries into what was happening at the prison in the days and hours leading up to Epstein’s death. Epstein was also found unconscious in his cell last month in what could have been a suicide attempt.
Barr and the Justice Department wanted to know why he was taken off suicide watch just a few days after he was discovered.
“We will get to the bottom of what happened,” Barr said. “There will be accountability.”
The country’s top law enforcement official also said that Epstein’s suicide would not halt the investigation into other people who might have helped him traffic teenage girls for sex. He was charged with sexually abusing hundreds of adolescent girls at his mansions in Manhattan and in Palm Beach, Florida.
“Any co-conspirators should not rest easy,” Barr said. “The victims deserve justice and they will get it.”