At least one camera in the hallway outside the cell where officials claim registered child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein killed himself earlier this month had footage that is “unusable”, although other, clearer footage was able to be captured in the vicinity.
The information comes from three people briefed on the evidence gathered earlier this month, according to the Washington Post.
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It was not immediately clear why some video footage outside Epstein’s cell is too flawed for investigators to use or what is visible in the other, usable footage.
Washington Post reports: The incident is being investigated by the FBI and the Justice Department’s inspector general’s office, which are attempting to determine what happened and how to assess whether any policies were violated or crimes committed.
The footage is considered critical to those inquiries, and the revelation of an unusable recording is yet another of the apparent failures inside the Metropolitan Correctional Center, the short-staffed Bureau of Prisons facility in downtown Manhattan that held Epstein.
It’s unclear whether the flaw in the taping affected a limited duration of the footage or whether it was a chronic problem in the beleaguered facility.
A Bureau of Prisons spokesman declined to comment, as did spokespeople for the FBI, the Justice Department and the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan.
The people who spoke about the footage requested anonymity, citing the ongoing probe.
Epstein, a well-connected financier, had been charged in early July with sexually abusing dozens of young girls in the early 2000s and ordered held without bond. The arrest brought a sense of long-awaited justice to those who said Epstein abused them and who had earlier been dismayed by a 2008 plea deal he received to resolve similar allegations that was widely criticized as too lenient.
That deal allowed Epstein to plead guilty to two state charges and spend just 13 months in jail, with work release privileges. The new charges could have resulted in a prison term of as much as 45 years.
On Aug. 10, Epstein was found hanging in his cell. He was taken to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. His death was ruled a suicide.
Prosecutors have since moved to drop the charges against Epstein – although they continue to investigate those who might have conspired with him. A federal judge has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday to consider the matter and has indicated that those who say Epstein victimized them will be allowed to speak in court.
Meanwhile, there has been intense scrutiny of the federal facility where he was held, which did not follow its protocol in the handling of Epstein in several ways, officials have said.