U.S. Attorney General William Barr said there were “serious irregularities” at the prison where Jeffrey Epstein, the wealthy financier and accused child sex trafficker, was found dead over the weekend in an apparent suicide.
Barr made this known on Monday in New Orleans, where he was speaking at a law enforcement event.
He vowed that the Department of Justice would continue to pursue cases against anyone who allegedly helped Epstein commit any crime.
“Any co-conspirators should not rest easy. The victims deserve justice, and we will ensure they get it,” the attorney general said.
Barr said he was “angry” at the Manhattan jail’s failure to “adequately secure” Epstein.
“We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and that demand a thorough investigation,” Barr added.
The department is also facing political pressure from Congress, in the wake of the death, amid a public outcry over the failure of the prison to ensure Epstein went to trial and information about his alleged abuses came to light.
The top Democrat and Republican on the House Judiciary Committee issued a list of 23 questions to the federal Bureau of Prisons, raising queries about prison staff and conditions, particularly regarding mental health protocol.
“Any victim of Mr Epstein’s actions will forever be denied proper recourse and the scintilla of recompense our justice system can provide in the face of such alleged atrocities,” Jerry Nadler and Doug Collins wrote in their letter to the prison service.
Epstein, 66, was found unresponsive in his prison cell in New York early Saturday morning.
He had been taken off suicide watch in the days prior to his death, having been placed under close supervision after what might have been an attempt to take his own life in July.
The financier had close ties to very rich and powerful people in the United States and beyond, including President Donald Trump and former president Bill Clinton, though both say they had not had contact with Epstein in many years and never witnessed any wrongdoing.
Epstein had pleaded guilty in 2008 in Florida to relatively minor child prostitution charges.
He was given a 13-month sentence, though he did register as a sex offender.
He was arrested last month at an airport after returning from France, in light of dogged reporting by the Miami Herald newspaper into the 2008 plea deal and allegations that he trafficked or otherwise sexually abused dozens of minors.