A US judge on Tuesday denied bail for Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime associate charged with luring young girls so the late financier could sexually abuse them.
Ms Maxwell pleaded not guilty at a hearing in which women who accused her of enabling their abuse decried her “heinous” actions.
US District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan, rejecting Ms Maxwell’s bid for bail after prosecutors portrayed the wealthy socialite as an extreme flight risk, set a trial date for July 12th, 2021. Prosecutors have accused Ms Maxwell of helping Epstein recruit and eventually abuse girls as young as 14 from 1994 to 1997 and lying about her role in depositions in 2016.
Ms Maxwell (58) appeared by video from the Brooklyn jail where she is being held. She appeared tired, with her hair pulled back, and was wearing a brown T-shirt and tortoiseshell glasses.
Arrested on July 2nd , Maxwell has been charged with six criminal counts, including four related to transporting minors for illegal sexual acts and two for perjury. Prosecutors have said Ms Maxwell faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted.
Annie Farmer, who has accused Ms Maxwell of enabling her abuse, said during the hearing that the defendant “has never shown any remorse for her heinous crimes” and told the court “the danger Ms Maxwell poses must be taken seriously.”
“She is a sexual predator who groomed and abused me and countless other children and young women,” Ms Farmer told the court.
“Without Ghislaine, Jeffrey could not have done what he did,” an unidentified accuser added in a statement.
This accuser said she knew Ms Maxwell for more than 10 years and still felt threatened, adding, “If she is out, I need to be protected.”
‘Off the grid’
Ms Maxwell’s lawyers had sought a bail package including a $5 million bond and home confinement with electronic monitoring.
“The defendant has the ability to live in hiding, she’s good at it,” Alison Moe, a federal prosecutor, said in arguing against bail.
Ms Moe added that Ms Maxwell has demonstrated she can “live off the grid, indefinitely.” Ms Moe said it took a year after Epstein’s arrest to find Ms Maxwell. Prosecutors said her wealth and multiple citizenships - American, French and British - also supported the need for continued detention.
Ms Maxwell, Epstein’s former girlfriend and longtime associate, was arrested in Bradford, New Hampshire, where authorities said she was hiding out at a 156-acre (63 hectares) property she bought in December in an all-cash transaction with her identity shielded. Ms Maxwell has been held since July 6th at the Metropolitan Detention Center, a Brooklyn jail.
“Not guilty, your honor,” Ms Maxwell said after the judge asked her how she wished to plead to the charges.
Epstein was charged in July 2019 with sexually exploiting dozens of girls and women from 2002 to 2005 at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida. He died by suicide on August 10th at the age of 66 in a Manhattan jail.
Prosecutors accused Ms Maxwell of luring girls by asking them about their lives, schools and families and taking them shopping or to movies - acts, they said, that served as “the prequel” to Epstein’s abuse. Epstein has been linked socially to several powerful figures including US president Donald Trump, former president Bill Clinton and Britain’s Prince Andrew.
Ms Maxwell’s lawyers also argued that bail was justified because she might contract COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in the Brooklyn jail.
Prosecutors said on Monday that when FBI agents went to arrest Ms Maxwell, they had to forcibly enter her home, where she hid in an interior room, and found a cellphone wrapped in tin foil in an apparent effort to evade detection.
Ms Maxwell’s lawyer, Mark Cohen, said at the hearing that the door was open to Ms Maxwell’s home and her cellphone was stored in a secure bag to prevent hacking by the media.–Reuters