Maxwell’s lawyers ask judge to al­low bail

Miami Herald - - Sports - BY BEN WIEDER bwieder@mc­clatchydc.com

Ghis­laine Maxwell’s lawyers ar­gued Fri­day that the al­leged for­mer madam of dis­graced fi­nancier Jef­frey Ep­stein has been un­fairly blamed for Ep­stein’s sex crimes and should be re­leased on bail to avoid catch­ing COVID-19.

”Ghis­laine Maxwell is not Jef­frey Ep­stein,” her lawyers wrote.

Fur­ther, they wrote that “the COVID-19 pan­demic rep­re­sents an un­prece­dented health risk to in­car­cer­ated in­di­vid­u­als,” and ar­gued that both Maxwell’s health and her abil­ity to re­ceive a fair de­fense would be at risk due to the spread of COVID-19 in fed­eral pris­ons and the re­stric­tions placed on con­tact be­tween lawyers and their clients be­cause of it.

Maxwell’s lawyers fo­cused on rul­ings by the same fed­eral judge, Ali­son Nathan, who is pre­sid­ing over Maxwell’s case in the South­ern Dis­trict of New York in which she had granted de­fen­dants bail be­cause of COVID-19 con­cerns.

“They know their au­di­ence well,” said David We­in­stein, a for­mal fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor.

Maxwell was ar­rested last week on four charges of sex traf­fick­ing of a mi­nor and two charges of per­jury. Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors al­lege that she re­cruited and groomed three girls be­tween 1994 and 1997 to be sex­u­ally abused by Ep­stein and took part in the abuse her­self in one of the in­stances.

“Maxwell’s pres­ence as an adult wo­man helped put the vic­tims at ease as Maxwell and Ep­stein in­tended,” said Au­drey Strauss, the act­ing U.S. at­tor­ney, in an­nounc­ing the charges against Maxwell at a Thurs­day news con­fer­ence.

Maxwell has been ac­cused by Ep­stein’s vic­tims of re­cruit­ing them for sex­ual ex­ploita­tion by Ep­stein when they were girls, sometimes par­tic­i­pat­ing in sex acts along with the mul­ti­mil­lion­aire. He faced charges for the al­leged abuse more than a decade ago but was given an ex­cep­tion­ally le­nient sen­tence that re­ceived re­newed scru­tiny af­ter the Miami Her­ald’s 2018 Perver­sion of Jus­tice se­ries.

In the wake of the se­ries, then-U.S. La­bor Sec­re­tary Alexan­der Acosta, who had been the U.S. At­tor­ney for South­ern Florida that signed off on Ep­stein’s le­nient sen­tence, re­signed from the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion. The res­ig­na­tion came af­ter fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors brought new charges against Ep­stein last July af­ter re­turn­ing their at­ten­tion to Ep­stein’s al­leged crimes.

Ep­stein was found dead in a fed­eral prison last Au­gust, a month af­ter the charges, one day af­ter doc­u­ments were un­sealed in a fed­eral law­suit pro­vid­ing greater de­tail about Maxwell’s al­leged role in his abuse of girls. Fed­eral of­fi­cials have re­port­edly been con­cerned that Maxwell might also pose a risk of sui­cide and re­moved her clothes and bed­sheets and forced her to wear pa­per at­tire, ac­cord­ing to The Associated Press.

A fil­ing last week by fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors ar­gu­ing that Maxwell should be de­nied bail painted a por­trait of Maxwell’s at­tempts to evade the spot­light in the past year, since Ep­stein was ar­rested on fed­eral charges, and her con­sid­er­able wealth.

Maxwell fre­quently moved large sums of money be­tween 15 bank ac­counts over the past sev­eral years. She holds pass­ports for three coun­tries and moved a number of times within the United States in that time pe­riod be­fore ul­ti­mately mov­ing to a re­mote New Hamp­shire es­tate, pur­chased with cash through a shell com­pany in De­cem­ber, where Maxwell was ul­ti­mately ar­rested last week.

Maxwell fre­quently used a pseu­do­nym when re­ceiv­ing pack­ages and toured the New Hamp­shire home be­fore it was pur­chased us­ing an alias.

But rather than evad­ing au­thor­i­ties, Maxwell’s lawyers ar­gue that she was sim­ply seek­ing to avoid the spot­light and had been in reg­u­lar con­tact with the gov­ern­ment through her lawyers dur­ing that time pe­riod. They ar­gue that Maxwell has strong ties to the United States, where she has lived for nearly 30 years, and that her wealth and mul­ti­ple pass­ports don’t au­to­mat­i­cally maker her a flight risk be­cause that “would re­quire that ev­ery de­fen­dant with mul­ti­ple cit­i­zen­ship and fi­nan­cial means be de­nied bail, which is sim­ply not the law.”

Maxwell’s lawyers pro­pose that she be re­leased on $5 mil­lion bail se­cured by a $3.75 mil­lion prop­erty in the United King­dom. They pro­pose that she be con­fined to a New York home with elec­tronic GPS mon­i­tor­ing, with con­tact lim­ited to close friends, fam­ily and her lawyers and her travel re­stricted within New York.

We­in­stein, the for­mer fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor, said he thought the bail pro­posal pre­sented by Maxwell’s lawyers had a shot of sway­ing the judge, but that he thought their pro­posal was too low.

“I be­lieve that she has at least a now 50-60% chance of get­ting bond, but per­haps sup­ported by a dol­lar amount much higher than the $5 mil­lion her lawyers have sug­gested and se­cured by prop­erty in the U.S.”

Spencer Ku­vin, a lawyer who rep­re­sents sev­eral al­leged vic­tims, said it would be “com­pletely ab­surd” for Maxwell to be granted bail.

“She has un­lim­ited re­sources and three sep­a­rate pass­ports,” Ku­vin said. “She is charged with heinous crimes for over 20 years. She de­serves to be put be­hind bars for­ever.”

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors will have un­til Monday af­ter­noon to re­spond to the fil­ing and Maxwell will then be ar­raigned and face a re­mote hear­ing on her bail re­quest Tues­day in New York.

Town of Brad­ford, New Hamp­shire

Ghis­laine Maxwell lived at this se­cluded, 156-acre, mil­lion-dol­lar es­tate prop­erty in Brad­ford, N.H., be­fore her ar­rest July 2.

Ghis­laine Maxwell, Jef­frey Ep­stein’s al­leged pro­curer of young women, was ar­rested last week in New Hamp­shire.

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