The wealthy US financier Jeffrey Epstein, indicted on charges he trafficked underage girls for sex, has committed suicide in prison, US news media reported Saturday.
Epstein, who had hobnobbed with politicians and celebrities over the years and was already a convicted sex offender, hanged himself in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center and his body was found around 7:30 Saturday morning, The New York Times and other media said, quoting officials.
Epstein, 66, had been found unconscious in his cell in late July with marks on his neck after an apparent suicide attempt.
The hedge fund manager was denied bail last month after appearing at a New York court charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors.
He denied the charges and had faced up to 45 years in prison — effectively the rest of his life — if convicted.
The Metropolitan Correction Center, a federal facility in Manhattan that is often used to house suspects awaiting or during trial, is considered one of the most secure penal establishments in the US.
The infamous Mexican drug trafficker Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman spent more than two years there before being convicted and transferred to a federal prison in Colorado.
Prosecutors said Epstein sexually exploited dozens of underage teenagers, some as young as 14, at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida, between 2002 and 2005.
They claim that Epstein was “well aware that many of the victims were minors.”
The girls were paid hundreds of dollars in cash to massage him, perform sexual acts and to recruit other girls, prosecutors allege.
They say Epstein had an army of recruiters, often not much older than their targets, who would approach vulnerable teens.
Epstein is also accused of paying off possible co-conspirators to “influence” them, US media have reported.
Epstein, whose friends have included President Donald Trump, former president Bill Clinton and Britain’s Prince Andrew, was convicted previously of paying young girls for sexual massages at his Palm Beach mansion.
But he avoided federal prosecution under a plea deal that required Epstein to admit to a single Florida state charge of soliciting prostitution from a minor and register as a sex offender.
He served 13 months in a county jail before being released in 2009.
Last month, Alex Acosta resigned as US labor secretary amid a backlash over the deal that he negotiated with Epstein in that case while he was a federal prosecutor in Florida.
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