Thursday, January 26, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Strict Jail Conditions for Ghislaine Maxwell Kept in Place

Ghislaine Maxwell, the former girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein charged with trafficking underage girls for sex, cannot await trial in the general prison population, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

(CN) — Ghislaine Maxwell, the former girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein charged with trafficking underage girls for sex, cannot await trial in the general prison population, a federal judge ruled Tuesday. 

Entered in the Southern District of New York, the 4-page decision also denies Maxwell’s request for prosecutors to identify three of the anonymous victims described in her indictment. 

Mark Cohen and Christian Everdell, attorneys for Maxwell, told U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in a letter earlier this month that their client has been inappropriately kept on suicide watch among other “uniquely onerous conditions” at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.

“Ms. Maxwell has been confined alone in an area outside of the general population for the entire 36-day period (40 days if we include her confinement in New Hampshire), which is over three weeks longer than the 14-day quarantine period required for all new arrivals to the MDC under current Covid-19 protocols, and there is no indication that this will change,” the letter states.

In addition to subjecting their client to 24-hour surveillance, the attorneys complained that prison guards are taking notes on her activity.

The letter says Maxwell’s treatment is being treated more harshly than fellow MDC detainees because of what happened to Epstein across the river in the Metropolitan Correctional Center. Almost a year ago exactly, Epstein was found dead in his cell, his death ruled a suicide by hanging.

For Maxwell’s lawyers, however, the government’s confinement protocols are hampering their ability to prepare for next year’s trial.

On Tuesday, Judge Nathan shot down their demands.

“The BOP is providing the Defendant with conditions that allow her access to discovery materials so that she can meaningfully participate in the preparation of her defense,” Nathan wrote.

Nathan also took no issue with the surveillance of Maxwell. 

“The defendant has provided the court with no evidence, and no reason to believe, that the surveillance measures are motivated by improper purposes,” she said. 

To ensure that she still has access to her counsel and legal materials, Nathan did order the government to provide status updates of Maxwell’s confinement every 90 days.

As for identifying three of the victims, Nathan found that request to be “premature,” noting that discovery for the case has just begun. 

“The court is mindful of the factors pointed to by the defendant — in particular the fact that charges in this matter relate to conduct that allegedly took place many years ago — and anticipates that such a schedule would require the disclosure of alleged victims and witnesses substantially in advance of trial,” the order states. “But that alone does not justify such relief at this very early stage.”

Indicted in early July, Maxwell, 58, is being held without bail on six charges 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.

Epstein had been indicted last July for sexually abusing dozens of underaged girls, some as young as 14, and faced a possible sentence of 45 years prior to his death. A financier whose source of wealth remains elusive, Epstein boasted connections to many well-known figures, such as President Donald Trump, President Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew.

The charges against Maxwell include a perjury count related to a civil lawsuit filed by prominent Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre where Maxwell, a British socialite, denied knowledge of any abuse.

Maxwell’s attorneys have not responded to an email seeking comment. An attorney with the government declined to comment.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.