Jeffrey Epstein, accused sex trafficker, dies by suicide: Officials

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced millionaire who was facing federal sex trafficking charges, died by suicide early Saturday in his Lower Manhattan prison cell, three law enforcement officials told ABC News.

Epstein hanged himself, law enforcement sources said. He was transported in cardiac arrest at 6:39 a.m. from Metropolitan Correctional Center to New York Downtown Hospital, according to sources.

Epstein, 66, was set to stand trial next year for allegedly sexually abusing dozens of minor girls in New York and Florida.

His death came less than three weeks after he was found unresponsive in his cell at the federal prison in Lower Manhattan, with marks on his neck that appeared to be self-inflicted, sources told ABC News.

He had been on suicide watch since the July 23 incident.

Epstein was arrested in July of this year for alleged sex trafficking of minor girls at his Upper East Side mansion and his home in Palm Beach, Florida. Some of the charges date back to the early 2000s.

Epstein, 66, pleaded not guilty to the charges. He faced up to 45 years in prison if convicted.

His alleged crimes were thrown back into the spotlight amid renewed scrutiny of the plea deal Epstein reached with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami in 2007, led by then-U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta. A non-prosecution agreement allowed Epstein, a hedge-fund manager, to plead guilty to two state charges and avoid federal charges for an allegedly broad pattern of similar sexual misconduct. He would serve just 13 months of an 18-month sentence in county jail in Florida.

The alleged victims in that case told ABC News they were not made aware of the details of the plea agreement while it was being negotiated.

The deal is currently under review by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility. Acosta was serving as President Trump's Labor Secretary amid the controversy over his role in the deal. He later resigned from that position.

On Friday, a federal appellate court in New York unsealed around 2,000 pages of documents from a now-settled civil defamation case between Virginia Roberts Giuffre, an alleged Epstein victim, and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, a longtime Epstein associate.

Giuffre accused Maxwell of recruiting her while she was working as a locker-room attendant at Mar-A-Lago in 2000 and bringing her to Epstein's home for a massage. She claims that she eventually became a teen sex slave to Epstein, and a victim of sex trafficking, beginning at age 17, at the hands of both Epstein and Maxwell.

The newly-unsealed documents showed that Giuffre alleged that Epstein and Maxwell directed her to have sex with, among others: Prince Andrew; criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz; former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson; former Senator George Mitchell; a well-known prime minster, who she wouldn't name; and a foreign man who was introduced to her as a "prince."

Maxwell has consistently denied Giuffre's claims.

"Ghislaine Maxwell did not participate in, facilitate, manage or otherwise conspire to commit sex trafficking" as alleged by Giuffre, her attorney wrote in a 2016 court filing.

Maxwell's attorneys also contend in the newly unsealed court filings that Giuffre had “utterly failed” to substantiate her allegations that Maxwell facilitated her abuse. Giuffre’s claims about having been trafficked to other prominent men, Maxwell’s lawyers wrote, are “patently incredible.”

Mitchell called the allegations "false."

"I have never met, spoken with or had any contact with Ms. Giuffre," he said in a statement issued Friday. "In my contacts with Mr. Epstein I never observed or suspected any inappropriate conduct with underage girls. I only learned of his actions when they were reported in the media related to his prosecution in Florida. We have had no further contact."

Richardson also denied Giuffre's claims.

"These allegations and inferences are completely false. Governor Richardson has never even been contacted by any party regarding this lawsuit," Maddy Mahony, a spokeswoman for Richardson, said in a statement. "To be clear, in Governor Richardson’s limited interactions with Mr. Epstein, he never saw him in the presence of young or underage girls. Governor Richardson has never been to Mr. Epstein’s residence in the Virgin Islands. Governor Richardson has never met Ms. Giuffre."

Giuffre's allegations were never tested in court because the case was settled prior to trial.

During a detention hearing in July, Epstein came face-to-face with two other accusers. Annie Farmer said she was 16 when Epstein had her sent to New Mexico where he was allegedly “inappropriate” with her. Courtney Wild told the judge she was 14 when Epstein allegedly sexually abused her in Palm Beach, Florida. Both women spoke in support of keeping Epstein locked up without bail.

Epstein appeared to watch them address the judge, but his face showed no emotion.

A federal judge later denied bail for Epstein, after deciding he was too great a flight risk to release from custody.

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