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Florida

For the fourth time, Ghislaine Maxwell is denied release from ‘horrific’ Brooklyn jail

Ghislaine Maxwell’s fourth request to be released from federal custody was met with the same response as her three previous tries: Denied.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected an appeal by Maxwell of prior decisions by U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan to deny her bail.

The decision followed a roughly 30 minute hearing Monday that largely focused on Maxwell’s complaint that she is subjected to regular wellness checks throughout the night that prevent her from sleeping. The appeals court said in its ruling that Maxwell should address these concerns to Nathan.

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Maxwell’s lawyer David Oscar Markus argued in the hearing that Maxwell’s conditions made it impossible for her to prepare for trial, which is currently scheduled for July.

“For the last 10 months she has been held in horrific conditions that make it impossible for her to prepare for her trial,” Markus said.

But in a preview of Tuesday’s ruling, the three judge panel pushed back on this argument, asking whether Maxwell’s conditions and situation truly were unique.

Markus said Tuesday that he is “heartbroken” in response to the ruling.

“If our system tolerates detaining a 59-year old woman with no criminal history and subjecting her to torturous conditions, simply because of her old connection to Jeffrey Epstein, we should all be deeply troubled,” he said.

Maxwell, the ex-girlfriend and alleged accomplice of deceased financier and serial abuser Jeffrey Epstein, has been held in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn for the past nine months as she awaits trial, which is currently scheduled for this July.

She was arrested last July and currently faces six charges related to the sex trafficking of minors and is accused of grooming and recruiting four girls for Epstein’s abuse between 1994 and 2004, allegedly participating in the abuse of one of the girls herself. She faces a separate trial on two perjury charges connected to statements she made in two depositions in a defamation suit brought against her by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, an Epstein victim who has said that Maxwell recruited her when Giuffre was about 17 and working as a spa assistant at Mar-a-Lago.

Federal prosecutors have argued that Maxwell’s access to extensive wealth, foreign citizenship in the United Kingdom and France — the latter of which doesn’t extradite citizens — and the prospect of decades in prison if convicted make Maxwell a serious risk to flee the country to avoid trial. Maxwell initially gave an incomplete accounting of her finances to federal authorities and her initial bail proposal was short on specific details of what she would offer to guarantee her appearance at trial.

 

Judge Nathan rejected that request as well as two subsequent proposals in which Maxwell offered a bail package worth $28.5 million in assets belonging to her and family and friends, said she would be confined to a residence in New York and offered to renounce her foreign citizenship, among other conditions.

Maxwell was arrested on July 2, 2020, at a 156-acre New Hampshire property that had been purchased the previous December through a shell company. Maxwell’s name had not appeared in any of the sale documents, according to someone with knowledge of the transaction, and federal prosecutors say she had toured the property using a pseudonym.

Maxwell’s arrest came nearly one year after Epstein had been arrested on sex charges in July 2019. Epstein’s earlier abuse of dozens of women and a remarkably lenient 2008 plea deal he struck with federal prosecutors was the subject of the Miami Herald’s 2018 Perversion of Justice series and led federal prosecutors to revisit the case and bring new charges against Epstein in July 2019. He died in federal detention one month later in what has been ruled a suicide.

 

Maxwell has complained bitterly about her conditions behind bars, which her lawyers have said is a direct response to Epstein’s death in custody. Maxwell’s lawyers have said that she is being kept in solitary confinement, the food and water in the jail is unpalatable and that the wellness checks throughout the night prevent her from getting a full night’s sleep. They have complained that the computer she has access to doesn’t allow her to search the voluminous potential evidence turned over by the government, making it extremely difficult for her to prepare for her case, and, in the appeal, argued that her detention is sexist, given that high-profile men such as Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and Dominique Strauss-Kahn have been granted bail in the past.

Prosecutors have countered that the conditions of her confinement are designed to protect her and that she is granted more time to access her computer than any other inmate in the Brooklyn facility.

Maxwell has been accused by numerous Epstein victims of combing schools and spas to find girls to satisfy Epstein’s sexual appetite and grooming and recruiting those girls for Epstein’s abuse.

 

“Maxwell’s presence as an adult woman helped put the victims at ease as Maxwell and Epstein intended,” said Audrey Strauss, the U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, in announcing the charges against Maxwell last July.

Giuffre has said that Maxwell and Epstein directed her to have sex with a number of their high-profile friends, including Britain’s Prince Andrew, former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, hotel magnate Tom Pritzker and prominent defense attorney Alan Dershowitz. All of the men have denied the claims and Dershowitz and Giuffre have each sued each other for defamation.

Maxwell is currently scheduled to go to trial in July, though her legal team requested that the trial date be pushed back after prosecutors unveiled a new indictment last month that added the fourth victim and added additional sex trafficking charges. Nathan, the district judge, has said that she will be deciding on whether or not to push back the trial soon.

This story was originally published April 27, 2021 4:06 PM.

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