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Jeffrey Epstein jail injury leads to questions, suicide watch

Authorities are investigating the cause of the injury to Epstein, who is awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

Money manager Jeffrey Epstein pictured in Cambridge, Mass., in 2004.
Money manager Jeffrey Epstein pictured in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2004.
Rick Friedman/Corbis via Getty Images
Anna North is a senior correspondent for Vox, where she covers American family life, work, and education. Previously, she was an editor and writer at the New York Times. She is also the author of three novels, including the New York Times bestseller Outlawed.

Convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was found injured in jail earlier this week, in what sources say could be a suicide attempt, an attack, or even a ploy to get a transfer.

The money manager, who is accused of sexually abusing multiple underage girls, is being held in Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan while he awaits trial on sex trafficking charges. He was denied bail earlier this month.

Epstein was found semi-conscious in his cell in a fetal position, with marks on his neck, New York’s WNBC-TV reported on Wednesday. Two sources told the network he might have tried to hang himself, while a third “cautioned that the injuries were not serious and questioned if Epstein might be using it as a way to get a transfer.”

A fourth source said that authorities were treating the incident as a possible assault and were questioning a fellow inmate, former police officer Nicholas Tartaglione. Tartaglione’s lawyer said it was “absolutely not true” that his client assaulted Epstein.

The money manager is now on suicide watch, according to WNBC-TV.

Epstein was previously indicted in 2007 after allegations that he sexually abused dozens of underage girls at his Palm Beach, Florida, mansion. But in a 2008 deal with federal prosecutors, he was allowed to serve just 13 months in a county jail, with “work release” to go to an office for multiple hours a day. The US attorney who presided over the deal, Alexander Acosta, went on to become President Trump’s secretary of labor. He announced his resignation earlier this month amid growing criticism of his role in the deal.

Epstein’s case has received renewed public attention since Julie K. Brown of the Miami Herald reported on the deal last year. Earlier this month, Epstein was arrested at a New Jersey airport in connection with new charges in New York.

Scrutiny of his case has led to ongoing questions about the mysterious source of his wealth and revelations about his many famous friends. Last week, video surfaced of Donald Trump and Epstein apparently discussing women at a 1992 party at Mar-a-Lago. And on Thursday, the Daily Beast reported that Epstein had visited the Clinton White House multiple times in the early 1990s.

Epstein’s attorneys are currently appealing a judge’s decision to deny him bail. A date for his trial has not yet been set.