September 20, 2020

Ghislaine Maxwell requests bail due to ‘significant’ coronavirus risk

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in New York in 2005 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in New York in 2005

Ghislaine Maxwell should be released on bail of $5m (£4m) while awaiting trial for sex trafficking minors because of the risk of contracting coronavirus in jail, her lawyers have argued.

The British socialite was arrested on 2 July and is accused of assisting convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minors.

In documents submitted to New York court, her lawyers said she “vigorously” denies the charges.

She faces up to 35 years if convicted.

Prosecutors allege that between 1994 and 1997 Ms Maxwell helped Epstein groom girls as young as 14. Epstein died in prison on 10 August as he awaited his trial on sex trafficking charges. His death was determined to be suicide.

Ms Maxwell’s defence team said her detention at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, puts her at “serious risk” of contracting coronavirus.

They said she was not a flight risk and asked the judge to release her from custody on $5m (£4m) bail, signed by six of her associates and secured by a $3.75m (£3m) on property in the UK.

Under the proposed bail conditions, Ms Maxwell, 58, would surrender her passports from the US, UK and France and would confine herself to a property in New York with electronic GPS monitoring.

Her lawyers are arguing Ms Maxwell is not Jeffrey Epstein and that she had not been in contact with him for more than a decade before his death.

US federal prosecutors have said she is an “extreme risk of flight” and should remain in custody because her wealth, multiple passports, and the length of her potential sentence mean there’s a risk she may abscond.

A federal judge in Manhattan will decide on Tuesday whether to grant bail.

What are the details of the charges?

Four of the charges Ms Maxwell faces relate to the years 1994-97 when she was, according to the indictment, among Epstein’s closest associates and also in an “intimate relationship” with him. The other two charges are allegations of perjury in 2016.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ms Maxwell (right) is a well-connected socialite

The indictment says Ms Maxwell “assisted, facilitated, and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein to recruit, groom and ultimately abuse victims known to Maxwell and Epstein to be under the age of 18”.

Specifically, she is charged with:

  • Conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts
  • Enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts
  • Conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity
  • Transporting a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity

Who is Ghislaine Maxwell?

Ms Maxwell is the daughter of late British media mogul Robert Maxwell.

A well-connected socialite, she is said to have introduced Epstein to many of her wealthy and powerful friends, including Bill Clinton and the Duke of York (who was accused in the 2015 court papers of touching a woman at Jeffrey Epstein’s US home, although the court subsequently struck out allegations against the duke).

Buckingham Palace has said that “any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors” by the duke was “categorically untrue”.

Ms Maxwell has mostly been out of public view since 2016 and was arrested at her Bradford, New Hampshire, home on 2 July.