Judge denies Ghislaine Maxwell bail in Jeffrey Epstein sex crimes case

Ghislaine Maxwell, longtime associate of accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, speaks at a news conference on oceans and sustainable development at the United Nations in New York, U.S. June 25, 2013 in this screengrab taken from United Nations TV file footage.

UNTV | Reuters

A federal judge on Tuesday denied bail for Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite accused of facilitating the sexual abuse of younh girls by her former boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein, the now-dead investor.

Maxwell, who will remain in jail pending trial, pleaded not guilty at the bail hearing in Manhattan federal court, where he lawyer argued for her to be granted a $5 million release bond.

“Ms. Maxwell poses a risk of flight,” said Judge Alison Nathan, noting Maxwell’s wealth, citizenship in Britain and France, and lack of strong family or business ties in the United States as she denied the bail request.

Nathan also noted the “seriousness” of Maxwell’s alleged crimes as a reason she would have to flee, and said no bail condition or combination of conditions would ensure she would appear in court one the charges.

A federal prosecutor who argued against the bail request told Nathan that Maxwell posed as “Jen Marshall,” a “journalist” who was seeking privacy last November when was looked to purchase the New Hampshire house where she was found in her pyjamas and arrested by FBI agents on the morning of July 2.

Maxwell, according to a real estate agent involved in the purchase, posed as the wife of a man who identified himself as “Scott Marshall,” a purported retired member of the British military who was writing a book, the prosecutor Alison Moe said.

The $1 million house, which sits on more than 150 acres of land, later was bought by a legal entity set up for that purpose, and to hide the actual identity of the people who purchased the residence.

The real estate agent realized that Maxwell was the British-accented “journalist” who used another name after she saw news stories about Maxwell’s arrest.

Moe said Maxwell’s deception with the real estate agent, and other factors, warrant denying her bail, as does wealth that includes up to $10 million in assets, at least $4 million of which is in a Swiss bank account.

Maxwell, appearing remotely via video teleconference from a Brooklyn federal jail, spoke in a clear, firm voice as she denied the charges laid out in a six-count indictment against her.

“Not guilty,” Maxwell told Nathan, who was conducting the hearing for her arraignment and bail request.

Nathan scheduled Maxwell’s trial to begin on July 12, 2021.

Moe said she expected the trial would take three weeks.

Annie Farmer, one of three women whose claims are the basis for the criminal case against Maxwell, told the judge that she should deny the bail request, saying that “the danger Maxwell posed must be taken seriously.”

“She was a serial predator when she met and groomed me and countless other women,” Farmer said, after telling the judge she first met Maxwell when she was 16 years old.

Farmer, who requested to be identified by her real name during the court hearing, said, “Those that survived implore this court that she be detained pending trial.”

Another accuser, identified as Jane Doe, said in a statement read to the judge by Moe, said, “Without Ghislaine, Jeffrey could not have done what he did.”

Protestors gather outside court as Ghislaine Maxwell is set to make her first court appearance on July 14, 2020 at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, on a video link from her cell at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, over sex-trafficking charges tied to her former boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein in New York.

Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

Prosecutors asked that Maxwell, 58, be detained without bail on sex and perjury charges, calling her an “extreme” flight risk due to her millions of dollars in wealth, and her talent for “hiding.”

They also argued that one of the three countries where she holds citizenship is France, which does not extradite its own citizens on criminal charges.

“There is an incredibly strong incentive for the defendant to flee,” Moe said.

And “there’s a real concern here that the defendant could live beyond the reach for extradition for years,” the prosecutor said.

Moe scoffed at Maxwell’s claim to federal Pretrial Services that she has “no income,” which the prosecutor said was not credible given the lifestyle that Maxwell has been enjoying.

Moe also said it was troublesome that Maxwell claimed to have no income, and was offering to have someone else’s property secure her potential bond, at the same time she proposed to be released and to say at a luxury hotel in New York City as her case proceeds to trial.

In a filing Monday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, prosecutors told Nathan that when the FBI went to arrest Maxwell on July 2 in the New Hampshire home, she ignored an order “to open the door and, instead, [tried] to flee to another room in the house, quickly shutting a door behind her.”

Prosecutors also said that after she was taken into custody FBI agents found a cellphone belonging to Maxwell at the house that had been wrapped in aluminum foil in an apparent effort to prevent authorities from tracking its whereabouts.

Prosecutors said that since her arrest, other people have come forward to bolster their case against her.

Maxwell’s lawyers, in turn, had asked Nathan to set a personal recognizance bond for Maxwell in the amount of $5 million. Defense attorneys have said the bond would be secured by six unidentified co-signers, as well as by property in Britain worth $3.75 million.

The lawyers also proposed that Maxwell, who is the first person other than Epstein to be charged in connection with his alleged sex crimes, be confined to a residence in New York, with electronic monitoring, as a condition of her bail.

“Ms. Maxwell vigorously denies the charges, intends to fight them, and is entitled to the presumption of innocence,” her lawyers, Mark Cohen and Jeffrey Pagliuca, wrote in a court filing last week.

Maxwell, the daughter of the dead crooked British media baron Robert Maxwell, appeared remotely via teleconference from the Metropolitian Detention Center due to the coronavirus pandemic. A telephone conference call line set up for reporters and the public had up to 1,000 participants.

Maxwell is charged with with conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sexual acts, conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and two counts of perjury.

The hearing came a day after the Bloomberg news service reported that Maxwell is also under investigation by the U.S. Virgin Islands’ Justice Department for her alleged participation in Epstein’s sex-trafficking operation. Epstein owned a large private island in the Virgin Islands, which was locally known as “Pedophile Island.”

Epstein was arrested in early July 2019 on child sex trafficking charges lodged in Manhattan federal court. Prosecutors accused the millionaire financier of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls from 2002 through 2005 at his luxurious residences in Manhattan and in Palm Beach, Florida. An indictment against Epstein said he got access to those victims with the assistance of unidentified conspirators.

Weeks after being denied bail, Epstein, who was a former friend of Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, was found semiconscious on the floor of his cell in federal jail in Manhattan, with marks on his neck.

In August, Epstein, 66, died from what authorities have ruled was a suicide by hanging in the same jail. Two guards who were supposed to check on Epstein are being criminally prosecuted for having allegedly tried to cover up their failure to monitor him and other inmates on the night that he died.

After Epstein died, prosecutors vowed to continue to investigate his alleged co-conspirators. Maxwell was the most prominent of those suspected of facilitating Epstein’s alleged rampant serial sexual abuse of young girls and women.

When she was arrested earlier this month, Maxwell was charged in a six-count indictment with helping Epstein in the mid-1990s recruit and groom underage girls, at least one as young as 14 years old, so that he could sexually abuse them at his residences in New York, Florida and New Mexico, as well as at Maxwell’s home in London.

“In some instances, Maxwell was present for and participated in the sexual abuse of minor victims,” the indictment charges.

The charging document also said Maxwell “repeatedly lied when questioned about her conduct” during a legal deposition in 2016 as part of a lawsuit by one of Epstein’s accusers.

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