Maxwell’s lawyers ask judge to allow bail
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.
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.