Attorney General William Barr tamped down speculation over the death of convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, stating that while he was initially suspicious, he eventually concluded there was no foul play.
“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,” he told The Associated Press in an interview published Friday.
In August, the billionaire financier was found unconscious in his cell at New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center while awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges. The city medical examiner’s office ruled it a suicide.
But that didn’t stop skeptics from sharing conspiracy theories in which they claimed, without evidence, that Epstein was murdered in an effort to prevent him from implicating any other high-powered individuals in his trial.
Instead, numerous reports have emerged indicating that Epstein’s time behind bars was completely mishandled, from the failure of corrections officers to perform routine checks to the decision to take him off suicide watch shortly after he made an apparent attempt to end his life.
The Justice Department is still investigating the issues, including Epstein’s lack of a cell mate.
“I think it was important to have a roommate in there with him and we’re looking into why that wasn’t done, and I think every indication is that was a screw-up,” Barr said to the AP. “The systems to assure that was done were not followed.”
On Tuesday, Toval Noel and Michael Thomas, prison employees who were responsible for monitoring Epstein, were charged with conspiracy and falsifying records for neglecting to look after him then claiming they had with fabricated log entries.
That same day, Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Kathleen Sawyer testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee where members questioned her about Epstein’s death. Sawyer said his suicide in bureau custody hasn’t triggered any significant policy reforms because the problem boiled down to lax staff shirking their duties, not policies.