Epstein accuser sues as questions swirl about his death
NEW YORK (AP) — Jail guards on duty the night Jeffrey Epstein apparently killed himself are suspected of falsifying log entries to show they were checking on inmates every half-hour as required, according to a person familiar with the investigation into his death.
Surveillance video shows guards never made some of the checks noted in the log, said the person, who was not authorized to disclose information about the case and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Tuesday.
Those details came amid new developments Wednesday in the fight over Epstein’s estate, as a woman filed a lawsuit claiming she was forcibly raped by Epstein when she was a teenager in 2002.
Jennifer Araoz sued Epstein’s former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell and three unnamed members of his staff— the first of many lawsuits expected to be filed by Epstein’s accusers as a new state law went into effect Wednesday.
“Today is my first step toward reclaiming my power Jeffrey Epstein and his enablers stole from me,” Araoz told reporters. “My resolve to pursue justice has only strengthened.”
The AP only names alleged sexual assault victims if they consent to being identified, as Araoz has done.
The lawsuit blames Maxwell for helping Epstein recruit underage girls and alleges she provided “organizational support to Epstein’s sex trafficking ring.”
Maxwell’s publicist and lawyers didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comment. She has previously denied wrongdoing.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan, meanwhile, are investigating whether any co-conspirators of Epstein will face criminal charges.
The 66-year-old financier was awaiting trial for sex trafficking charges prior to his suicide.
Epstein is believed to have killed himself early Saturday at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York. An autopsy has been performed, but the cause of his death has not been announced.
His death prompted the Justice Department to place two guards on leave and remove the jail’s warden pending the outcome of investigations by the FBI and the Justice Department’s inspector general. Falsifying log entries can be a federal crime.
The case has thrown a spotlight on chronic understaffing at the jail, which has long been used to house some of the world’s most notorious criminals, including mobsters, drug lords and terrorists.
A person familiar with the jail’s operations told the AP that a guard in Epstein’s unit was working a fifth straight day of overtime and another guard was working mandatory overtime the day he was found. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he lacked authorization to publicly discuss jail operations.
Last month, Epstein had been put on suicide watch, with 24-hour monitoring and daily psychiatric evaluations, after he was found on the floor of his cell with bruises on his neck. But he was taken off suicide watch at the end of July and returned to the jail’s special housing unit, for inmates requiring close supervision.