Second Circuit Grants Delay on Ghislaine Maxwell Deposition Release

Virginia Roberts Giuffre gestures during a 2019 interview by the BBC Panorama program. Roberts Giuffre says she was a trafficking victim made to have sex with Prince Andrew when she was 17. (BBC Panorama via AP)

MANHATTAN (CN) — The day after the release of dozens of files in her case, Jeffrey Epstein’s accused accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell scored a win Friday in her quest to delay the release of a deposition said to incriminate her. 

The Second Circuit’s two-page order, which does not explain the judges’ reasoning, keeps the status quo of document’s sealing until the court can rule on her motion to block its release entirely. 

Prosecutors claim that Maxwell perjured herself in the April 2016 deposition by denying knowledge of any sex-trafficking scheme.

The only publicly disclosed portions have been quoted in Maxwell’s indictment, which shows the heiress being grilled about whether she knew of a system to keep Epstein supplied with underage girls to perform sexual massages. 

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” Maxwell is recorded saying. 

On the day of Maxwell’s arrest, Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss offered a reason why Maxwell made that statement under oath.  

“Maxwell lied because the truth, as alleged, was almost unspeakable,” Strauss told reporters at a press conference announcing the case. 

With trial scheduled a year from this month, Maxwell’s attorneys argue that the release of a document so central to one of prosecutors’ six charges could prejudice a jury, jeopardizing her right to a fair trial.  

“The government has indicted Ghislaine Maxwell,” Maxwell’s attorney Adam Mueller, from the firm Haddon, Morgan and Foreman, noted in their motion for a stay. “The media has all but convicted her.” 

Now in the criminal arena, Maxwell’s deposition came from a civil defamation lawsuit filed by her accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who alleged that Maxwell groomed her to become Epstein’s “sex slave.” Maxwell’s testimony along with dozens of other files became secret following a settlement in 2017. 

The Miami Herald’s exposé “Perversion of Justice” renewed interest in them, spurring an open-records battle that went to the Second Circuit, which ruled last year to disclose nearly 2,000 pages immediately.  

The remainder led to a yearlong battle inside the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska, who ordered their release last week while granting a brief pause for Maxwell to appeal her ruling.  

The same news outlet that reanimated the Epstein saga into the headlines fought again for the highly anticipated records. 

“The documents at issue have been improperly sealed for years—in a way that allowed Mr.  Epstein, Ms. Maxwell, and others’ abuse of young girls to go on unchallenged and unpunished, and allowed a legal system that protected perpetrators over victims to go unquestioned,” attorney Christine Walz wrote in the legal brief opposing the stay. 

The wait is evident in the chronology of Maxwell’s indictment, charging her with grooming young girls for Epstein’s abuse back in the 1990s.  

In 2007, Epstein struck a plea deal allowing him to admit to a light count that characterized the under-aged women legally incapable of consent as prostitutes. An unusual clause of the agreement purported to shield his co-conspirators from prosecution, and Maxwell’s attorneys revealed their intention to invoke that agreement at an earlier bail hearing.  

U.S. Circuit Court Judges José Cabranes and Rosemary Pooler, both Clinton appointees, slated oral arguments for Sept. 22.  Both judges ruled last summer to the files in the case should be unsealed. 

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