Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers fight to keep sensitive evidence withheld


Lawyers for Ghislaine Maxwell have requested that sensitive evidence should be withheld from the public before her trial next year, including sexualised and nude images.

The proposed order, which was submitted to a judge at a Manhattan court on Monday, seeks to prevent both Ms Maxwell’s lawyers and those of her accusers from publishing any information related to the case to the internet or elsewhere, arguing that the content should be withheld from public view.

“The highlight confidential information contains nude, partially-nude or otherwise sexualised images, videos or other depictions of individuals,” the document states, noting that Ms Maxwell does not wish the information to be “disseminated, transmitted or otherwise copied”.

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Ms Maxwell, 56, the former girlfriend of the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, was arrested in New Hampshire this month and has been accused of helping Epstein to recruit and abuse girls as young as 14 from 1994 to 1997 and lying about her role in depositions in 2016.

Ms Maxwell pleaded not guilty to six charges when she appeared in court via videolink from her cell in a Brooklyn prison this month. Judge Alison Nathan denied her bail and ordered that she held in custody until her trial in July 2021, arguing that she had an “extraordinary capacity to evade detection”.

It is not known who may feature in the sensitive material, but it is believed that it relates to Ms Maxwell. FBI investigators found a stash of nude photographs of underage girls, along with a black book of contacts, when they raided Epstein’s mansion in New York last year.

Ms Maxwell’s lawyers stated in the order that prosecutors have so far failed to agree that witnesses and their lawyers should be prevented from using evidence for any purpose beyond preparing for the criminal trial.

They warned that there were already civil cases in progress between Ms Maxwell and “many of the government’s potential witnesses”, and added that many of the potential witnesses and their lawyers had commented publicly about the case.

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“There is a substantial concern that these individuals will seek to use discovery materials to support their civil cases and future public statements,” the lawyers wrote.

They expressed concern that any further disclosure of materials would prejudice the jury in next year’s trial, along with jeopardising the outcome of the civil cases.

One of the civil lawsuits is being brought by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, one of Epstein’s alleged victims, who claims that she was trafficked by Epstein and Ms Maxwell and made to have sex with the Duke of York. Both Ms Maxwell and Prince Andrew have denied the allegations.

In the defamation lawsuit last week Judge Loretta Preska ordered that confidential testimony given by Ms Maxwell should be made public along with dozens of other documents, stating that the public interest in the disclosure outweighed any “minor embarrassment” to Ms Maxwell.

It is believed that the documents could reveal details about Ms Maxwell’s sex life, along with her relation to powerful figures who have also been accused of being embroiled in Epstein’s abuse.

Ms Maxwell’s lawyers argued that the sealed documents from the civil case should remain confidential, saying they could embarrass her and might “inappropriately influence potential witnesses or victims”.

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