August 29, 2019 / 5:22 PM / 21 days ago

Epstein criminal case dismissed following his death, probe continues

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge on Thursday formally dismissed the criminal sex trafficking case against Jeffrey Epstein, as prosecutors continue to investigate whether co-conspirators helped the financier before his death this month.

U.S. District Judge Richard Berman’s order came two days after he said at a hearing that he was legally bound to dismiss the case. Prosecutors said at the Tuesday hearing that an investigation into Epstein’s alleged crimes would continue, and that the dismissal would not prevent them from charging possible co-conspirators in the future.

Epstein’s lawyers could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday. A spokeswoman for prosecutors declined to comment.

Epstein, a wealthy 66-year-old money manager who once counted U.S. President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton and Britain’s Prince Andrew as friends, was arrested on July 6 and pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges involving dozens of girls as young as 14.

He was found dead in his Manhattan jail cell on Aug. 10, having been previously taken off suicide watch. A New York City medical examiner concluded that he had died of suicide by hanging.

Epstein’s lawyers said at Tuesday’s hearing that they had doubts about the examiner’s conclusion. The FBI is examining two cameras outside the cell that malfunctioned, a law enforcement source has told Reuters.

A source earlier told Reuters two jail guards had failed to follow a procedure overnight to make separate checks on all prisoners every 30 minutes.

Tuesday’s hearing featured emotional testimony from 16 women who said Epstein had abused them, many of whom lamented that he would never face justice in court.

Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; editing by Bill Berkrot, Noeleen Walder and Richard Chang

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