Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Ghislaine Maxwell deemed a flight risk, denied bail in Epstein sex trafficking case

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Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite and ex-girlfriend of the late US convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, has been denied bail in a high-profile sex case.

At a hearing via video link, a judge in New York said she would remain in detention while awaiting her trial on charges of trafficking minors.

Ms Maxwell, who pleaded not guilty, will go on trial in July 2021.

Her lawyers had said she was at risk of contracting coronavirus in prison.

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Epstein died in prison on 10 August 2019 as he awaited his trial on sex trafficking charges. His death was determined to be suicide.

‘Tried to flee’

Ms Maxwell, who was arrested on 2 July, faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted.

US federal prosecutors had said she was an “extreme” flight risk and should remain in custody.

In a filing on Monday, prosecutors said that when FBI agents visited Ms Maxwell’s property on 2 July, they identified themselves and asked her to open the front door.

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“Through a window, the agents saw the defendant ignore the direction to open the door and, instead, try to flee to another room in the house, quickly shutting a door behind her,” they said.

They added: “Agents were ultimately forced to breach the door in order to enter the house to arrest the defendant, who was found in an interior room in the house.”

Prosecutors allege that between 1994 and 1997, Ms Maxwell helped Epstein groom girls as young as 14. They have said that they expect “one or more victims” to testify.

Last week, Ms Maxwell’s lawyers said her detention at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, put her at “serious risk” of contracting coronavirus.

They had said she was not a flight risk and asked the judge to release her from custody on bail signed by six of her associates and secured by a $3.75m property in the UK.

Four of the charges Ms Maxwell faces relate to the years 1994-97 when she was, according to the indictment, among Epstein’s closest associates and also in an “intimate relationship” with him. The other two charges are allegations of perjury in 2016.

The indictment says Ms Maxwell “assisted, facilitated, and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein to recruit, groom and ultimately abuse victims known to Maxwell and Epstein to be under the age of 18”.

Who is Ghislaine Maxwell?

Ms Maxwell is the daughter of the late British media mogul Robert Maxwell.

A well-connected socialite, she is said to have introduced Epstein to many of her wealthy and powerful friends, including Bill Clinton and the Duke of York (who was accused in the 2015 court papers of touching a woman at Jeffrey Epstein’s US home, although the court subsequently struck out allegations against the duke).

Buckingham Palace has said that “any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors” by the duke was “categorically untrue”.

Ms Maxwell, who has mostly been out of public view since 2016, was arrested at her remote estate in Bradford, New Hampshire, on 2 July.


Epstein sex trafficking case: Timeline

  • 2005: One of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged victims, aged 14, reports him to the police in Palm Beach
  • 2006: Epstein is charged with unlawful sex acts with a minor
  • 2007: A plea deal is struck – instead of facing federal sex-trafficking charges, Epstein pleads guilty to two charges of soliciting prostitution, including with a minor
  • 2008: Epstein gets an 18-month sentence following the plea deal
  • November 2018: The Miami Herald publishes an explosive investigation into Epstein, the plea deal, and the dozens of women alleging abuse
  • July 2019: Epstein is arrested again, accused of sex trafficking of underage girls over a number of years
  • August 2019: Epstein is found dead in his prison cell while awaiting trial
  • 2 July 2020: Ghislaine Maxwell is arrested by the FBI at her New Hampshire home
  • 14 July 2020: Ms Maxwell pleads not guilty to charges of trafficking minors for Epstein and is denied bail

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