NEW YORK: An autopsy on disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was found dead in his jail cell, has concluded that he committed suicide by hanging, US media reported Friday.
The ruling, first reported by The New York Times, comes six days after the 66-year-old, who was accused of trafficking girls as young as 14 for sex, was found dead.
The newspaper said the official results of the New York city medical examiner’s investigation into how Epstein had died showed that the wealthy hedge fund manager had killed himself.
It cited officials as saying that Epstein had used a bed sheet to hang himself.
The report came a day after US media reported that preliminary findings from the post-mortem examination had found broken bones in Epstein’s neck.
The Washington Post and The New York Times cited sources familiar with the autopsy report as saying Epstein had broken the hyoid bone near his Adam’s apple.
Epstein was charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors.
According to prosecutors, Epstein sexually exploited dozens of teenagers at his homes in Manhattan and Florida between 2002 and 2005.
He denied the charges but faced up to 45 years in jail if found guilty.
The FBI and Justice Department are investigating how America’s most high-profile inmate managed to take his own life just weeks after an earlier reported suicide attempt.
The warden of the Metropolitan Correctional Center where Epstein was housed has been temporarily reassigned and two guards put on administrative leave pending an investigation.
They guards were reportedly asleep when they should have been checking on Epstein.
Earlier, two women who said they were recruited 15 years ago to provide massages to Epstein, only to be later sexually molested by him at his Manhattan mansion, have filed a US$100 million lawsuit against the financier’s estate.
The lawsuit filed on Thursday night in US District Court in Manhattan is at least the second against the estate over Epstein’s alleged misconduct, following his death.
Lawyers who represented Epstein did not immediately respond on Friday to requests for comment.
The plaintiffs, identified as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2, said they now live in Okinawa, Japan and Baltimore.
Prior to his death, Epstein had pleaded not guilty in July to charges of sex trafficking involving dozens of underage girls from 2002 and 2005.
Epstein’s death deprived his alleged victims of a chance to face him at a criminal trial, leaving civil lawsuits against his estate among their legal options.
Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 said they were aspiring models working at a restaurant off Manhattan’s Union Square when they were approached in June 2004 by an unnamed female “recruiter,” identified as Sue Roe, who worked for Epstein.
Lisa Bloom, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, said in a statement that her clients were 18 and 20 years old at the time, without saying which was which.
She did not immediately respond on Friday to a request for comment.
According to the complaint, Roe offered the plaintiffs hundreds of dollars each to massage Epstein at his Manhattan mansion.
The complaint said Roe told Jane Doe 1 that her “boss” thought Jane Doe 1 was beautiful and liked to give young girls “opportunities,” and that Roe “intimated” to Jane Doe 2 that there might be opportunities to make more money.
Both plaintiffs said that despite Roe’s assurances that Epstein would not subject them to unwanted touching, his conduct became aggressive during the massages, including that he forcefully touched their breasts and masturbated.
The plaintiffs said they were unaware they were victims of Epstein’s alleged sex-trafficking scheme until last month when he was arrested.
Bloom said more plaintiffs will likely join the case.
On Wednesday, Jennifer Araoz, 32, sued Epstein’s estate in a New York state court in Manhattan, saying Epstein sexually abused her when she was 14.