Ghislaine Maxwell Deposition Must Be Public, 2nd Circuit Affirms

Audrey Strauss, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, speaks during a 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, Thursday, July 2, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

MANHATTAN (CN) — A deposition believed to show Ghislaine Maxwell perjuring herself by denying knowledge of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex-trafficking empire must be unsealed, the Second Circuit ruled on Monday. 

“We cannot conclude that the district court abused its discretion in ordering the unsealing of the deposition materials,” the three-judge panel wrote in an unsigned summary order.

Maxwell’s indictment is for now the only source of what has been disclosed from her deposition. The portions quoted by prosecutors show Maxwell denying any knowledge of a pipeline that supplied Epstein with underage girls to perform massages — encounters that escalated to sexual assault.  

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” Maxwell told the lawyers interrogating her for what was a 2015 civil suit by Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s most outspoken victims.  

After U.S. authorities arrested the British socialite in July, Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss gave reporters her take on the response: “Maxwell lied because the truth, as alleged, was almost unspeakable.”

Maxwell argued that additional disclosures of her deposition could taint a future jury pool at her upcoming criminal trial, but this concern failed Monday to secure a Second Circuit delay.

“The District Court correctly held that the deposition materials are judicial documents to which the presumption of public access attaches and did not abuse its discretion in rejecting Maxwell’s meritless arguments that her interests superseded the presumption of access,” the 3-page order states. “The District Court’s order articulated and applied the correct legal framework in its individualized review of the materials to be unsealed.”  

Giuffre’s attorney David Boies applauded the ruling as a step toward transparency.  

“It is an important step towards vindicating the public interest in understanding the scope and scale of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex-trafficking ring and the efforts made to conceal it,” Boies said.

Maxwell’s attorney Adam Mueller did not respond to an email requesting comment.  

The flood of information, litigation and prosecutions related to Epstein and Maxwell comes thanks largely to the efforts of the Miami Herald, which documented the dynamics of Epstein’s sexual “Pyramid scheme” of underaged girls in a 2018 investigative series.  

After publishing that series, The Herald succeeded in unsealing thousands of pages of files from the 2015 lawsuit where Giuffre called it defamatory for Maxwell to deny that she had been groomed as Epstein’s “sex slave.”  

Federal prosecutors indicted Epstein in New York last year, but the purported financier died behind bars ahead of trial. His death was ruled a suicide.

Though Maxwell claimed that she and Epstein had not been in touch for over a decade prior to his death, that timeline is contradicted by the email correspondence obtained by the Herald that show Epstein and Maxwell coordinating their public relations defense in January 2015.    

Maxwell sat for her deposition in Giuffre’s lawsuit in April 2016, leading to what would eventually become one of two perjury counts against her. She is also charged with four counts accusing her of grooming Epstein’s underaged victims.

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