Wednesday, April 21, 2021

US court unseals documents in Ghislaine Maxwell/Jeffrey Epstein case


A cache of documents in civil litigation against the British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was unsealed on Thursday night, including early 2015 correspondence with her longtime confidant Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced financier and convicted sex offender.

The documents stem from a 2015 civil action brought against Maxwell by Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre, who has claimed that Maxwell lured her into Epstein’s orbit at 15 years old, under the guise of offering work as a masseuse. They include personal emails between Epstein and Maxwell as well as information from a discussion between Giuffre and her lawyer.

Many documents in this case have been subject to an intense legal battle. Maxwell’s attorneys in the civil suit had argued to keep many records under seal, maintaining previously that “this series of pleadings concerns [attempts] to compel Ms Maxwell to answer intrusive questions about her sex life”. The documents, they argued, are “extremely personal, confidential and subject to considerable abuse by the media”.

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Manhattan federal court judge Loretta Preska ruled on 23 July to unseal them, however, saying: “The court finds that the countervailing interests identified fail to rebut the presumption of public access.”

Documents involving Maxwell’s deposition have not been released yet, as her lawyers are appealing their unsealing.

Federal authorities arrested Maxwell on 2 July and charged her for allegedly participating in Epstein’s sex trafficking. Maxwell, daughter of the late publishing baron Robert Maxwell, pleaded not guilty on 14 July. Maxwell has repeatedly denied wrongdoing. Her lawyers have said she “vigorously denies the charges” and is “entitled to the presumption of innocence”.

The documents released on Thursday help shed light on Maxwell and Epstein’s personal relations. In one of the personal emails between Epstein and Maxwell, Epstein wrote on 25 January 2015: “You have done nothing wrong and i woudl [sic] urge you to start acting like it. “Go outside, head high, not as an esacping[sic] convict. go to parties. deal with it.”

The exchange followed a request from Maxwell, who was romantically linked to Epstein, to be distanced from his dating life.

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Some of them also relate to previous claims of Giuffre, such as former US President Bill Clinton riding on Epstein’s plane, and allegations about lawyer Alan Dershowitz. Dershowitz, who had worked as Epstein’s attorney, has repeatedly denied misconduct. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

During brief questioning about Bill Clinton, the documents show Giuffre said she saw the former president on Epstein’s island. Representatives for Clinton did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Clinton has distanced himself from Epstein, and in a 2019 statement a spokesperson said “President Clinton knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those with which he has been recently charged in New York.”

The documents also show that Giuffre was asked in an interview whether Epstein ever bragged about the age of any girls with whom he had sexual relations. “Yes, he did. He did all the time,” she said. “The worst one that I heard from his own mouth was this pretty 12 year old girls he had flown in for his birthday. It was a surprise birthday gift from one of his friends and they were from France,” she alleged.

Epstein told her powerful people owed him favors, Giuffre claimed, according to the documents. “Lots of people owed him favors from what he told me… That’s why I believe he does so many favors in the first place.”

Giuffre was also asked whether Britain’s Prince Andrew – whom she has claimed she had sex with as a teenager at Epstein’s behest – would have information about the financier.

He would know a lot of the truth,” she said.

Prince Andrew has vehemently denied allegations of misconduct.

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Maxwell met Giuffre at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in south Florida, where the then teen was working as a locker-room attendant.

In the civil lawsuit, which has since been settled, Giuffre claimed that Maxwell had defamed her, by stating that she was a liar for accusing Epstein and Maxwell of sexual impropriety.

An extensive collection of documents in this suit was also unsealed last August. They featured both bombshell claims, and denials that world leaders participated in Epstein’s alleged sex ring. These filings were disclosed shortly after Epstein’s arrest last July. Epstein killed himself in jail last August.

Maxwell is being held in jail pending trial, which is scheduled for next July.

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