Jeffrey Epstein’s death the result of ‘a perfect storm of screw-ups’

US attorney general comments on case after prison officers charged with falsifying records

The death of Jeffrey Epstein (pictured) was the result of a ‘perfect storm of screw-ups’, US attorney general William Barr has said. Photograph: New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP.

The death of Jeffrey Epstein (pictured) was the result of a ‘perfect storm of screw-ups’, US attorney general William Barr has said. Photograph: New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP.

 

The death of Jeffrey Epstein was the result of a “perfect storm of screw-ups”, US attorney general William Barr has said.

His comments came days after two prison officers responsible for guarding Epstein were charged with falsifying records.

Tova Noel and Michael Thomas are accused of sleeping and browsing the internet instead of checking on Epstein, who killed himself in his jail cell in August.

Manhattan federal prosecutors had charged the 66-year-old, whose influential circle of friends included Donald Trump and the Duke of York, with sex trafficking of girls as young as 14. He denied the charges but had been dogged for decades by claims that he had paid dozens of girls for sexual acts in Florida.

Mr Barr said he initially had his own concerns about Epstein’s death due to numerous irregularities at the Manhattan prison. As the FBI and justice department investigated the matter, he said he realised there were a “series” of mistakes made that gave the financier the chance to take his own life.

“I can understand people who immediately, whose minds went to sort of the worst-case scenario because it was a perfect storm of screw-ups,” Mr Barr said.

Epstein’s death has cast a spotlight on the Bureau of Prisons, which has been plagued by chronic staffing shortages and outbreaks of violence.

The indictment unsealed this week against the officers offers a damning glimpse of safety lapses inside a high-security unit at the Metropolitan Correctional Centre in New York.

Mr Barr said federal prosecutors in New York are making good progress while they continue to investigate allegations against Epstein, and he is hopeful people “will see results soon”.

A lawyer for Mr Thomas claimed both guards are being “scapegoated”.

Mr Noel’s lawyer said he hopes to “reach a reasonable agreement” with the government to avoid a trial. – AP