Ghislaine Maxwell denied bail in Epstein-related sex-abuse case
Jeffrey Epstein’s former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell will remain behind bars until trial after she was denied bail Tuesday as a risk to flee rather than face charges she recruited girls for the financier to sexually abuse more than two decades ago.
Two Epstein accusers implored the judge to keep the British socialite detained after she pleaded not guilty to the charges during a video court hearing in Manhattan.
U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan said even the most restrictive form of release would be insufficient to ensure Maxwell would not flee, particularly now that she knows a conviction could result in up to 35 years in prison.
As the judge explained her reasoning for denying bail, Maxwell dropped her head repeatedly, appearing dejected. At one point, she appeared to wipe a tear from underneath one eye as she sat alone in a room at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where she has been housed since last week.
Maxwell, 58, has been held without bail since her July 2 arrest at her million-dollar New Hampshire estate, where prosecutors say she refused to open the door for FBI agents, who busted through to find that she had retreated to an interior room. Her lawyer, Mark S. Cohen, told the judge that Maxwell was in her pajamas and had followed security protocol calling for her to retreat to her room if any disturbance occurred outside.
The judge rejected Cohen’s claim that Maxwell was hiding from the public and the media after getting threats, rather than from investigators, when she bought the $1-million mansion late last year.
Federal officials are so worried that Ghislaine Maxwell might take her own life in custody that they have instituted extra security measures.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Alison Moe said Maxwell posed as a journalist, “Jen Marshall,” when she purchased the New Hampshire estate.
“She has the ability to live off the grid indefinitely,” Moe said, citing Maxwell’s wealth and extensive international ties, along with citizenship in the U.S., the United Kingdom and France.
She said Maxwell was vague about her finances after her arrest because “she cannot remember off the top of her head how many millions of dollars she has.”
And she rejected Cohen’s contention that prosecutors were engaging in “spin” by twisting facts to portray his client in the worst light.
Maxwell was charged with recruiting at least three girls, one as young as 14, for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 1997.
An indictment alleges that she helped groom the victims to endure sexual abuse and was sometimes there when Epstein abused them. It also says she lied during a 2016 deposition in a civil case stemming from Epstein’s abuse of girls and women.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre’s first U.K. television interview on the topic describes how she says she was trafficked by notorious sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Epstein killed himself in August 2019, several weeks after he was confronted by two accusers at a bail hearing who insisted that he should remain in jail while awaiting sex-trafficking charges that alleged he abused girls at his Manhattan and Florida mansions in the early 2000s.
In court papers, Maxwell’s lawyers argued that Epstein’s death left the media “wrongly trying to substitute her for Epstein — even though she’d had no contact with Epstein for more than a decade, had never been charged with a crime or been found liable in any civil litigation, and has always denied any allegations of claimed misconduct.”
Prosecutors had argued in court papers filed Monday that Maxwell was a danger to flee the country if she was freed on $5-million bail, which her lawyers recommended.
The judge set a trial date for July 2021.
“The defendant has not only the motive to flee, but the means to do so swiftly and effectively,” prosecutors wrote, citing her access to millions of dollars and the scant information about her finances provided by her lawyers.
Maxwell’s lawyers have said she “vigorously denies the charges, intends to fight them, and is entitled to the presumption of innocence.”
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