Jeffrey Epstein: How did the disgraced paedophile financier die?

Paedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein is dead and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell is serving a 20-year jail sentence but the fallout from their crimes continues.

More than four years after the disgraced financier died by suicide in his prison cell, a New York District judge announced the impending unsealing of a trove of documents revealing the names of more than 150 of his associates.

And now the legal files, part of a long-running defamation lawsuit brought by Epstein victim Virginia Giuffre against his former fixer and convicted child trafficker Maxwell in 2015, have been made public.

The case was settled in 2017, but Judge Loretta Preska later issued an order to release materials connected to the case in December 2023. The documents identify individuals whose names had been previously redacted, including “alleged victims, people not accused of wrongdoing…and absent third parties.”

Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew are among the high-profile figures named in the documents, the first tranche of which was made public in January 2024.

Since Maxwell’s conviction in December 2021, there have also been developments in a parallel case, another civil lawsuit from Ms Giuffre claiming that Prince Andrew had sex with her knowing she was underage after she was trafficked by Epstein and Maxwell.

In January 2022, a federal judge allowed the case, where Andrew denied wrongdoing to go to trial but the accused eventually elected to settle with Ms Guiffre out of court, despite vehemently protesting his innocence.

Looming behind all this, however, is a shocking event from 2019 that has left few who follow the case closely with closure as Epstein died in prison before he could be put on trial for trafficking charges of his own.

As the story continues to unfold, here’s what you need to know about the circumstances of his death.

Epstein died on 10 August inside the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York, where he was confined ahead of a pending trial for allegedly recruiting dozens of teen girls to engage in sexual acts with him and his friends. He was facing up to 45 years in prison if he was convicted.

Epstein was found with a noose made out of a bedsheet and the authorities ruled the death a suicide.

Since the 66-year-old’s death, speculation has run rampant that Epstein did not kill himself, though authorities ranging from the medical examiner to former US attorney general Bill Barr have publicly declared that Epstein did take his own life.

But rumours the disgraced billionaire had been assassinated began almost immediately.

One of his lawyers, Reid Weingarten, said he had met with Epstein shortly before he died and remarked: “We did not see a despairing, despondent, suicidal person”. The attorney argued instead that Epstein’s body, found with broken bones in his neck, which can also occur during strangulation, showed evidence “far more consistent with assault”.

Then-president Donald Trump piled in as well, retweeting a conspiracy theory tying the death to Bill Clinton, who had flown on Epstein’s private jet dubbed the “Lolita Express”, as had numerous other figures in the worlds of politics and entertainment – including Mr Trump himself.

Epstein was found dead in prison in 2019

The death also set off fevered speculation online, where the story overlapped with the themes of the increasingly influential QAnon conspiracy movement, which believes a cabal of paedophilic Democratic and media elites are conspiring to harm children.

Mr Barr, however, said he personally reviewed security footage of Epstein’s cell and said no one else was present during the death.

“I can understand people who immediately, whose minds went to sort of the worst-case scenario because it was a perfect storm of screw-ups,” he told the Associated Press in 2019.

There were other factors that raised eyebrows, including Epstein’s repeated comments to prison psychologists he was mentally sound and not contemplating suicide.

Epstein with his now-jailed friend Ghislaine Maxwell

Prince Andrew pictured with Virginia Roberts (C) and Maxwell

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