Ghislaine Maxwell pleads not guilty as judge to decide bail application.

Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime associate charged with luring young girls so the late financier could sexually abuse them, pleaded not guilty in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday, with a judge still to decide on whether to grant bail.

US District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan presided over the arraignment hearing for Ms Maxwell, who prosecutors have accused of helping Epstein recruit and eventually abuse girls from 1994 to 1997 and lying about her role in depositions in 2016. The judge scheduled a trial date for July 12th, 2021.

Ms Maxwell, 58 was charged with six criminal counts, including four related to transporting minors for illegal sexual acts and two for perjury. Prosecutors have argued against her bid for bail, describing her as a flight risk.

“Not guilty, your honor,” Maxwell said, after the judge asked her how she wished to plead to the charges. She waived the public reading of the indictment . Ms Maxwell appeared by video from the Brooklyn jail where she is being held.

Ms Maxwell had her hair pulled back and was wearing a brown T-shirt and tortoiseshell glasses. The wealthy socialite’s lawyers sought a bail package including a $5 million bond and home confinement with electronic monitoring.

Prosecutors wanted Ms Maxwell to remain in detention and opposed her bid for bail, calling her an “extreme” flight risk with no reason to stay in the United States. Prosecutors said her wealth and multiple citizenships - American, French and British - also supported the need for detention.

She has been held since July 6th at the Metropolitan Detention Center, a Brooklyn jail.

Ms Maxwell was arrested on July 2nd in Bradford, New Hampshire, where authorities said she was hiding out at a 63-hectare (156-acre) property she bought last December in an all-cash transaction.

Her lawyers on Friday proposed a bail package including a $5 million (€4.4 million) bond, secured by six co-signers and $3.75 million of property in Britain, and home confinement with electronic monitoring.

They said Ms Maxwell has always denied involvement in illegal conduct related to Epstein, and that bail was justified because she might contract Covid-19 in the Brooklyn jail.

Prosecutors on Monday called Ms Maxwell an “extreme” flight risk reflecting her wealth, multiple citizenships – American, French and British – and prior success in evading arrest, and said she should remain detained.

Ms Maxwell’s lawyers have previewed her possible defences. These include that her alleged misconduct occurred long ago and would be hard to prosecute, and that she was shielded by Epstein’s 2007 plea agreement with federal prosecutors in Miami, which covered “any potential co-conspirators.”

Epstein was charged last July with sexually exploiting dozens of girls and women from 2002 to 2005 at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida. He took his own life on August 10th at age 66 in a Manhattan jail. – Reuters

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