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Robert Bianchi: Epstein’s death is an amazing failure by his jailers – His victims must not be denied justice

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By Robert A. Bianchi | Fox News

It is simply amazing that millionaire financier Jeffery Epstein, who was jailed on multiple charges of sex trafficking minors, died in federal custody Saturday in what authorities called an apparent suicide.

Epstein’s death comes just two weeks after he was placed on a suicide watch after being found injured in his cell, possibly from a suicide attempt.

How did this happen to such a high-profile inmate who was in segregation and who was supposed to heavily monitored? Why was he taken off a suicide watch that could have prevented his death?

WILLIAM BARR ‘APPALLED’ BY JEFFREY EPSTEIN DEATH, SAYS QUESTIONS ‘MUST BE ANSWERED’

I want hard evidence to prove that Epstein’s death was a suicide. The New York City Medical Examiner’s Office said an autopsy is pending to determine the death of the 66-year-old, who was jailed at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in the city. Authorities said he was found unresponsive in his cell at about 6:30 a.m. Saturday and was dead on arrival at a nearby hospital.

The Metropolitan Correctional Center is a federal prison that handles the worst of the worst criminals and is well-staffed. Clearly, Epstein should have been under constant observation to make sure he could not kill himself or someone else could do so.

Attorney General William Barr said after learning of Epstein’s death: “I was appalled to learn that Jeffrey Epstein was found dead early this morning from an apparent suicide while in federal custody. Mr. Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered. In addition to the FBI’s investigation, I have consulted with the Inspector General who is opening an investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Epstein’s death.”

A full investigation is clearly needed to see if anyone can be criminally charged in connection with Epstein’s death. The Office of the Inspector General will determine if any policies or procedures at the federal prison – or anyone responsible for implementing them – bear any responsibility for Epstein’s death.

Once prison staff found Epstein hanging in his cell, you can be assured they went into “CYA” mode to try to shield themselves from any responsibility. I hope that during the investigation they decide to be honest about how it was possible that Epstein was left unguarded and died.

Some people welcomed news of Epstein’s death, calling it a pathetic end for a serial child rapist who deserved to die. But that woefully misses the point of how Epstein’s victims, law enforcement and the public have now been deprived of the right to see him stand trial and be held accountable for the many crimes he is accused of committing.

The wealthy disgraced financier also escaped justice in 2007. Then-U.S. Attorney in Miami Alex Acosta let Epstein off the hook with a sweetheart deal that let him avoid appropriate punishment for crimes when prosecutors were hot on Epstein’s trail.

The women who said they were Epstein’s victims had a right to confront Epstein in court – both from the witness stand and during sentencing if he wound up being convicted.

The thing about this that strikes me as a former prosecutor is that Epstein has now escaped justice on two separate occasions with the help from the very government institutions that were supposed to prevent this and protect the victims.

On Saturday federal prison leadership and staff could not find a way to keep a high-profile defendant alive to face trial. Death proved to be Epstein’s ultimate escape from responsibility for the crimes he stood accused of committing – sexual abuse of dozens of underage girls at his $77 million New York City mansion and at his mansion in Palm Beach, Fla. between 2002 and 2005,

Epstein had pleaded not guilty and faced a sentence of up to 45 years in prison if convicted. 

The wealthy disgraced financier also escaped justice in 2007. Then-U.S. Attorney in Miami Alex Acosta let Epstein off the hook with a sweetheart deal that let him avoid appropriate punishment for crimes when prosecutors were hot on Epstein’s trail.

Acosta resigned as U.S. labor secretary last month after Epstein’s arrest and prosecution in New York spotlighted Acosta’s excessively lenient treatment of Epstein in the Florida case.

Any lawyer who practices criminal law knows that Acosta made as corrupt an “agreement” for extraordinary leniency toward Epstein as any I have ever seen in my 30-year career as an attorney.

There was ample evidence in a stunning 53-page indictment being prepared by federal prosecutors in Miami to lock Epstein up for many years for sex crimes. It was the kind of case that prosecutors live for because of the terrible victimization of teenage girls.

But what should have been a perfect case to get a dangerous sexual predator locked up where he couldn’t harm any other girls was – unbelievably – scuttled by then-U.S. Attorney Acosta himself.

After a private meeting at a hotel with Epstein’s private defense counsel, Acosta agreed to a state court resolution of 13 months in jail for Epstein, where he was given work-release even though this was not permissible under the rules of the jail. So while he slept at the jail, Epstein was able to leave and conduct his business during the day.

And for that absurdly inadequate sentence, Acosta agreed to a “non-prosecution” agreement, and an illegal agreement not to notify Epstein’s victims – in violation of federal law regarding resolution of such a case. Acosta also agreed to shield any potential co-conspirators to Epstein’s sex crimes.

Acosta then insulted any trial prosecutor by saying trials are uncertain. Really! How many trials did Acosta back away from in other cases on that bogus theory? My bet: none.

As prosecutors, it is our job to try cases. The case against Epstein in Florida 12 years ago was strong. But even if it were challenging, Acosta should have worked to convict a clearly dangerous sexual predator who deserved a stiff sentence.

I am awaiting an enterprising journalist to pull the records of sex crimes prosecuted by Acosta’s U.S. Attorney’s Office that were far less severe than Epstein’s, to see what the pleas and sentences were in those cases. I bet people would be shocked.

In all, I guess we all felt that we had to move past Acosta’s deal and let the federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York finally bring Epstein to justice. That hope was dashed with Epstein’s death. 

Accordingly, I call now for any case against those accused of assisting Epstein in his crimes to be pursued vigorously.

In addition, civil suits to recover financial damages from Epstein’s estate for his victims must move forward.

And finally, the Office of Inspector General should find out why Epstein’s child victims were denied justice by Acosta years ago.

We can no longer levy any punishment against Epstein. But his victims deserve justice, and anyone who assisted him in his crimes deserves prosecution. The sordid Jeffrey Epstein story is far from over.

Robert A. Bianchi, Esq. was the Morris County (NJ) Prosecutor from 2007-2013. He is also a certified criminal trial attorney and partner at the Bianchi Law Group.

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