Judge denies bail for Ghislaine Maxwell in Epstein sex abuse case
NEW YORK (AP) - Jeffrey Epstein's former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, will remain behind bars until trial after she was denied bail Tuesday as a risk to flee rather than face charges she recruited girls for the financier to sexually abuse more than two decades ago.
Two Epstein accusers implored the judge to keep the British socialite detained after she pleaded not guilty to the charges during a video court hearing in Manhattan.
U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan said even the most restrictive form of release would be insufficient to ensure Maxwell would not flee, particularly now that she knows a conviction could result in up to 35 years in prison.
As the judge explained her reasoning for denying bail, Maxwell dropped her head repeatedly, appearing dejected. At one point, she appeared to wipe a tear from underneath one eye as she sat alone in a room at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where she has been housed since last week.
Maxwell, 58, has been held without bail since her July 2 arrest at her million-dollar New Hampshire estate, where prosecutors say she refused to open the door for FBI agents, who busted through to find her in an interior room. Her lawyer, Mark S. Cohen, told the judge that Maxwell was in her pajamas and had followed security protocol calling for her to retreat to her room if any disturbance occurred outside.
The judge rejected Cohen's claim that Maxwell was hiding from the public and the media after getting threats rather than investigators when she bought a $1 million mansion late last year.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Moe said Maxwell posed as a journalist, "Jen Marshall," when she purchased the New Hampshire estate.
"She has the ability to live off the grid indefinitely," Moe said, citing Maxwell's wealth and extensive international ties, along with citizenship in the U.S., the United Kingdom and France.
She said Maxwell was vague about her finances after her arrest because "she cannot remember off the top of her head how many millions of dollars she has."
And she rejected Cohen's contention that prosecutors were engaging in "spin" by twisting facts to portray his client in the worst light.
"It is not dirt. It is not spin," Moe said. Prosecutors, she said, planned to hold Maxwell accountable for "chilling conduct" when Maxwell recruited at least three girls, one as young as 14, for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 1997.
FILE - NEW YORK, NY: Ghislaine Maxwell attends VIP Evening of Conversation for Women's Brain Health Initiative, Moderated by Tina Brown at Spring Studios on October 18, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Image
As part of the government's presentation, Moe read aloud a statement by one female accuser while another, Annie Farmer, by phone urged the court to detain Maxwell. Farmer said Maxwell was a "sexual predator who groomed and abused me." She said Maxwell "lied under oath and tormented her survivors."
An indictment alleged that Maxwell groomed the victims to endure sexual abuse and was sometimes there when Epstein abused them. It also alleged she lied during a 2016 deposition in a civil case.
Epstein killed himself in August 2019, several weeks after he was also confronted by two accusers, including Farmer, at a bail hearing. They insisted he remain in jail while awaiting sex trafficking charges that alleged he abused girls at his Manhattan and Florida mansions in the early 2000s.
In court papers, Maxwell's lawyers argued that Epstein's death left the media "wrongly trying to substitute her for Epstein — even though she'd had no contact with Epstein for more than a decade, had never been charged with a crime or been found liable in any civil litigation, and has always denied any allegations of claimed misconduct."
Maxwell's lawyers pushed to have her released on $5 million bail. They said she "vigorously denies the charges, intends to fight them, and is entitled to the presumption of innocence."
The judge set a trial date for July 2021.
Afterward, some accusers praised the decision to keep Maxwell detained.
FILE - NEW YORK CITY, NY: Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell at Cipriani Wall Street on March 15, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
In a statement, Virginia Roberts Giuffre said she was "thrilled."
"Without Ghislaine, Jeffrey Epstein would not have been able to fulfill his sick desires," Giuffre said. "Ghislaine preyed on me when I was a child. As with every other of her and Jeffrey Epstein's victims, I will have to live with what she did to me for the rest of my life. The rest of her life should be spent behind bars."
Jennifer Araoz, who says Epstein raped her when she was 15, said in a statement that she was "once again able to take another breath as Ghislaine Maxwell will be in jail until at least her trial date next July."
She added: "Knowing that she is incarcerated for the foreseeable future allows me, and my fellow survivors, to have faith that we are on the right path."