A minimum of eight people up and down the chain of command at Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center reportedly knew Jeffrey Epstein was not to be left alone in his cell at any time, not even for a few minutes. That's according to the Washington Post, which spoke with sources familiar with the probe into a calamitous series of events that allowed the alleged pedophile sex trafficker to hang himself on August 10th.
According to the Post, this "stunning failure to follow instructions" has "alarmed" investigators, even if it doesn't concretely guarantee that any crimes occurred. It may simply indicate "bureaucratic incompetence spanning multiple individuals and ranks within the organization." In any case, 20 MCC workers have reportedly received subpoenas as federal authorities continue to look into the financier's death.
Last week, New York City's Medical Examiner officially ruled that Epstein hung himself inside the MCC, where he had been awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges. The announcement confirmed reports that he'd fashioned a noose from a bedsheet and tied it to his bunk bed, but a string of procedural lapses had to occur in order for the accused child sex trafficker to even have the opportunity: On July 23rd, staff found Epstein injured in his cell and placed him on suicide watch. According to the Post, the financier's then-cellmate, Nicholas Tartaglione, said Epstein had a bedsheet around his neck, suggesting a first attempt at suicide.
Epstein denied that he had tried to kill himself and said he'd been attacked, and was taken off suicide watch six days later—on the condition that someone would remain in Epstein's cell with him at all times. And, because the MCC had housed the sex offender in a special housing unit, guards should have checked on him every 30 minutes. Instead, the jail transferred Epstein's cellmate on the night of August 9th, and the correctional officers watching him slept through three hours of their shift.
Both of those officers had been working overtime for multiple days in a row at the time of his suicide, and both have been placed on leave. U.S. Attorney General William Barr also reassigned the MCC's warden. The whole fiasco has also prompted Barr to clean house, naming Kathleen Hawk Sawyer the new director of the Bureau of Prisons on Monday, replacing acting director Hugh Hurwitz.
Also on Monday, Epstein's will—signed two days before his suicide—surfaced in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Sneakily, Epstein tied up his approximately $577 million fortune in a trust, the beneficiaries of which are as-yet unknown. In so doing, he more or less guaranteed that his victims would fight a long uphill battle to extract damages from his estate. Before the women who've filed lawsuits (and, presumably, will file lawsuits) can collect, they'll have to get a judge to release the trust's protected details, according to the Associated Press. That's before demonstrating that they're entitled to compensation in the first place, and before a judge decides how much they should be awarded: The beneficiaries will probably still want their share of Epstein's millions, as will any governments owed taxes, as will any unpaid creditors who might be waiting in the wings.
All things considered, the trust—as attorney Jennifer Freeman, who represents child sex abuse victims, put it to the AP—reads as just another example "of Epstein's manipulation of the system, even in death."
Speaking of gaming the system, a frightening new element entered into the Epstein allegation mix this week: One woman who filed a new lawsuit against the late wealth manager said Epstein lured her in by promising he'd help her get treatment for an eating disorder, then forced her to marry a foreign, female recruiter. The idea, according to the lawsuit, was to allow this recruiter to remain in the country and continue her search for new girls to enlist in Epstein's sexual scheme. As it turns out, this may not have been a one-time deal: Business Insider reports that "at least two other women in Epstein's entourage were married to each other," on his orders.
One of those women reportedly lived in the East 66th Street building mostly owned by Epstein's brother, Mark, where Epstein also retained a block of units to house "models." According to BI, the FBI now wants to interview the women, whose union would—if the reports are true—expand the scope of Epstein's alleged sex trafficking into an international operation.
Domestically, investigators are reportedly zeroing in on Epstein's Zorro Ranch in New Mexico, the state's Public Lands Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard having handed over hundreds of pages of records for the roughly 10,000 acre property. These documents, according to CBS, could point to possible co-conspirators: Former Governor Bill Richardson, for example, has been accused of abusing one of Epstein's trafficking victims (and denied any wrongdoing). He has also visited the ranch, which boasts its own private landing strip.
Incidentally, this is the home Epstein reportedly envisioned as his own personal baby farm, fertile testing ground for an alleged eugenicist plot to widely disseminate his DNA. In service of that ill-conceived dream, Epstein is said to have sought out the company of scientific luminaries, many of whom he seems to have met via a prominent New York literary agent: John Brockman. In a piece for the New Republic, one of Brockman's own clients—Evgeny Morozov—paints the agent as "Epstein's intellectual enabler," suggesting that his association with the convicted sex offender may have been less happenstance (a cultural influencer inviting a well-known, potential benefactor to his "billionaire dinners") and more transactional.
Morozov published a 2013 email exchange with Brockman in which the latter encourages his client to meet with Epstein, highlighting his wealth and his habit of making large donations. In one of the emails, Brockman writes:
Last time I visited his house (the largest private residence in NYC), I walked in to find him in a sweatsuit and a British guy in a suit with suspenders, getting foot massages from two young well-dressed Russian women. After grilling me for a while about cyber-security, the Brit, named Andy, was commenting on the Swedish authorities and the charges against Julian Assange.
The "British guy," Brockman goes on to explain, was Britain's Prince Andrew, who has been accused of actively participating in Epstein's alleged sex ring (and who has denied the claims). Brockman's pushy recommendation that Morozov consider taking the meeting suggested, to Morozov, that the agent "was acting as Epstein's PR man," even as he acknowledged Epstein's "trouble" and jail time in Florida. And the writer's subsequent digging found that Epstein gave Brockman's Edge Foundation hundreds of thousands of dollars between 2001 and 2015. Brockman did not return request for comment by time of publication.
What else is there to say about Epstein today? Well, according to Business Insider, the former Dalton educator maintained a Pinterest account—where he reportedly pinned a painting of Peter Pan, a not nonsensical addition to his reportedly bonkers art collection—and on Spotify, enjoyed listening to unfortunately titled tracks such as Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher" and Oscar Peterson's rendition of "My Heart Belongs to Daddy." Which may have nothing to do with the accused pedophile predator's sexual predilections, who can say?