Bail for Ghislaine Maxwell Would Hurt Victims, Feds Say

Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, speaks during a Thursday news conference to announce charges against Ghislaine Maxwell for her alleged role in the sexual exploitation and abuse of multiple minor girls by Jeffrey Epstein. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

MANHATTAN (CN) — U.S. prosecutors made a passionate plea for victims of sexual abuse Monday, the day before Jeffrey Epstein’s former girlfriend and accused co-conspirator Ghislaine Maxwell heads to court.

“At the heart of this case are brave women who are victims of serious crimes that demand justice,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Moe wrote, replying in opposition to Maxwell’s request for a $5 million bail package.

“There will be no trial for the victims if the defendant is afforded the opportunity to flee the jurisdiction, and there is every reason to think that is exactly what she will do if she is released,” the prosecutor added.

The government, which will share testimony from alleged victims at Maxwell’s arraignment and bail hearing Tuesday afternoon, deems the 58-year-old an “extreme risk of flight,” pointing to her “completely opaque” fortune as the scion of a British publishing magnate.

It notes that the bail proposed by her attorneys at Cohen & Gresser represents a sliver of the more than $20 million that prosecutors traced in one of more than a dozen bank accounts owned by or associated with Maxwell, who did not illuminate her finances in her defense memo.

“These are glaring red flags, even before the court considers the gravity of the charges in this case and the serious penalties the defendant faces if convicted at trial,” Moe wrote, referring to the maximum 35-year sentence Maxwell could face if convicted on all six charges against her. 

Prosecutors allege the strength of that evidence makes likely that Maxwell will stay in prison for a long time.

“Multiple victims have provided detailed, credible evidence of the defendant’s criminal conduct,” their brief states.

Maxwell is charged with grooming young girls for Epstein’s predation — and taking part herself in that abuse — in the late 1990s.

In what has been likened to a pyramid scheme, Maxwell allegedly recruited girls to perform massages on Epstein that escalated to sexual assault and sent the victims out to find others. Backed by high-powered attorneys like Alan Dershowitz, Epstein would admit to much of the conduct in a highly unusual 2007 plea deal allowing him to admit to a light count of soliciting prostitution with a minor.

Even though the alleged crimes took place long ago, prosecutors say, those victims carry “indelible marks” of their trauma.

“The recollections of the victims bear striking resemblances that corroborate each other and provide compelling proof of the defendant’s active participation in a disturbing scheme to groom and sexually abuse minor girls,” according to the brief, which notes that “one or more” will argue against Maxwell’s release at tomorrow’s hearing.

“In particular, the victims’ accounts are supported by contemporaneous documents and records, such as flight records, diary entries, and business records,” the brief continues. “The powerful testimony of these victims, who had strikingly similar experiences with Maxwell, together with documentary evidence and witness testimony, will conclusively establish that the defendant groomed the victims for sexual abuse by Jeffrey Epstein.”

Maxwell’s attorneys likely will defend her with an extraordinary provision of Epstein’s plea deal that included an agreement not to prosecute the disgraced financier’s co-conspirators.

Tackling any claim of immunity head-on, prosecutors argue such a defense would be “absurd.”

“Tellingly, the defendant cites no authority for the proposition that an agreement she was not a party to and that does not even identify her by name could possibly be invoked to bar her prosecution,” the government’s brief says.

Since the Miami Herald’s watershed investigation “Perversion of Justice” called attention to this agreement, Trump’s former secretary of state Alexander Acosta resigned under a storm of controversy for having signed it. A federal judge denounced the provision as illegal before adding that he was powerless to rescind it. 

Signed in the Southern District of Florida, federal prosecutors in New York argue that they are not a party to it. They note the document does not name Maxwell and it describes conduct from 2001 to 2007, postdating the allegations in her indictment.

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan will preside over Maxwell’s arraignment and bail hearing Tuesday at 1 p.m.

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