News & Politics

4 Key Questions Must Be Answered After Epstein's Death, Says Ben Sasse

(AP Photo/Palm Beach Sheriff's Office, File)

After news that financier and convicted sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein was found dead on Saturday, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) sent a scathing letter to Attorney General Bill Barr insisting that “heads must roll” and asking four important questions about Epstein’s death. Epstein had been arrested on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges in July — charges that implicated unnamed co-conspirators, some of whom were named in documents released Friday night.

Epstein pled guilty to sex crimes involving minors, and the recent charges involved girls as young as 14. Many of his named co-conspirators are high-profile individuals. Three weeks before his death, Epstein was found with wounds suggesting a suicide attempt. According to breaking reports, he was not on suicide watch on Saturday.

“The Department of Justice failed, and today Jeffrey Epstein’s co-conspirators think they might have just gotten one last sweetheart deal,” Sasse wrote bitterly. “Every single person in the Justice Department — from your Main Justice headquarters staff all the way to the night-shift jailer — knew that this man was a suicide risk, and that his dark secrets couldn’t be allowed to die with him.”

“Given Epstein’s previous attempted suicide, he should have been locked in a padded room under unbroken, 24/7, constant surveillance. Obviously, heads must roll,” the senator added.

Sasse addressed Barr personally. “During your nomination process, you committed to me to ensuring that justice would be done for his victims. I was pleased to see the Department open an investigation into the mishandling of the ridiculous 2008 non-prosecution agreement, and then the decision to bring subsequent charges against Epstein. Knowing this monster’s history of thwarting justice, I also called for him to be held without bail upon his July 6 arrest,” he wrote.

“It should have been abundantly clear that Epstein would go to any lengths to avoid being held accountable for his crimes, including by killing himself. Being responsible for Epstein’s custody and prosecution, the Department of Justice should not have allowed this to happen,” Sasse added. “His death not only deprives his victims of the opportunity to confront him in court and to see him held accountable for his crimes, but also makes it harder to unravel his ring and to hold accountable the many other powerful men who raped and exploited these children.”

Sasse concluded his letter by asking four important questions:

1. Was Epstein in fact placed on suicide watch following his previous possible suicide attempt?

2. If so, was Epstein taken off suicide watch prior to his apparent suicide this morning? And if so, why?

3. Can you confirm that you are ordering two investigations: one — presumably Inspector General investigation — into the Bureau of Prison’s mismanagement of the incarceration of Epstein; and another — presumably FBI investigation — into any possible criminal activity surrounding this mismanagement?

4. Can you certify that all other potential evidence that investigators were pursuing relating to Epstein’s co-conspirators is being immediately secured by the Department of Justice, so that no additional evidence or potential testimony is also squandered?

Epstein’s death could be considered a gross miscarriage of justice, as it prevented him from being convicted in the public eye and it prevented his alleged victims from receiving the justice due them. Yet his death does not represent the end of the case.

Some alleged co-conspirators have already been named publicly, including former Sen. George Mitchell (D-Maine); former Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.); the late scientist Marvin Minsky; modeling scout Jean-Luc Brunel; Hyatt Hotels magnate Tom Pritzker; prominent hedge fund manager Glenn Dubin; Epstein’s lawyer Alan Dershowitz; and Prince Andrew. Most of these men have denied the allegations.

Without Epstein, it will be harder for these and other accused men and women to prove their innocence — and for authorities to convict the guilty among them.

Epstein’s death is a huge scandal, and Sasse’s letter a timely response.

Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.