Judge Quietly Extends Pretrial Jail Stint for Ghislaine Maxwell

Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, points to a photo of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell during a July news conference in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

MANHATTAN (CN) — Finding that Ghislaine Maxwell poses the same flight risk as when she was arrested, a federal judge refused Monday to let the British socialite out of jail before her trial on charges of assisting Jeffrey Epstein recruit girls and young women for sex.  

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan concluded that none of the information that Maxwell’s attorneys presented in support of her latest bid to be released on a $28.5 million bail package had a “material bearing on the court’s determination that she poses a flight risk.” 

Earlier this month, the 58-year-old former girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein had requested home confinement in New York City in a sealed motion for release on bail from the Metropolitan Detention Center Brooklyn.

“The court concludes that the government has met its burden of persuasion that the defendant poses a flight risk and that pretrial detention continues to be warranted,” wrote Nathan, an Obama appointee who first denied Maxwell’s bail request after she was arraigned in July. 

“Furthermore, for substantially the same reasons as the court determined that detention was warranted in the initial bail hearing, the court again concludes that no conditions of release can reasonably assure the Defendant’s appearance at future proceedings,” the 2-page order states.

Maxwell was charged on a federal indictment over the summer, nearly a year to the day that Epstein was arrested on sex-trafficking charges ultimately scuttled by his jailhouse death in August 2019.   

Announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss, federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York charged Maxwell on six counts related to her alleged involvement with recruiting girls to be sexually abused by Epstein, sometimes with her participation.  

Maxwell denies the charges, which if proven carry a possible sentence of 35 years.  

“Ms. Maxwell has no intention of fleeing,” her attorney, Mark S. Cohen of New York firm Cohen & Gresser, wrote in her request to be transferred to home confinement awaiting trial. “If she did, then under the proposed bail conditions she would lose everything and destroy the family she has been fighting so hard to protect since Epstein’s arrest.” 

The bail request promised that Maxwell would execute irrevocable waivers of her right to contest extradition in both the United Kingdom and France, where she holds citizenship. 

Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss asked the court to deny bail, saying in a 36-page memo last week that Maxwell failed to state anything new from the motion she had submitted and denied over the summer. 

Like many defendants in her position this year, Maxwell is leaning on the Covid-19 pandemic as a reason to grant bail, stating that her risk of contracting coronavirus is heightened by the daily inspections of her mouth that the government conducts on her at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn where she has been held in solitary since July.

Maxwell’s counsel did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday afternoon. 

The Jeffrey Epstein scandal has implicated a number of high-profile and rich individuals — including Prince Andrew and Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz — with having had sex with underage victims at Epstein’s private island and other properties. Epstein did plead guilty in 2008 to procuring a child for prostitution but was given leniency from prosecutors. 

After new evidence came forth alleging that the financier had paid underage girls for massages, then molested and raped them, he was arrested again in July 2019. Officials ruled his jail cell death the next month a suicide. 

Maxwell was arrested last July at a 156-acre rural estate in New Hampshire. 

Accompanying her 2-page ruling, Judge Nathan filed an opinion under temporary seal to be made public with redactions later. 

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