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Ghislaine Maxwell denies sex trafficking charges in first US court appearance
23 April 2021, 23:40 | Updated: 23 April 2021, 23:48
Ghislaine Maxwell has appeared in court in person for the first time over sex trafficking charges alleging she procured teenage girls for Jeffrey Epstein to abuse..
The British socialite and former girlfriend of Epstein pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking conspiracy and additional sex trafficking charges added last month.
The new indictment has stretched the timespan of the charges from three years to a decade.
In court documents, prosecutors say Maxwell recruited at least three teenage girls, including a 14-year-old, between 1994 and 1997 for Epstein to sexually abuse.
The recent indictment says another teenage girl was recruited in the early 2000s when she was 14. The indictment alleges Maxwell sometimes joined the abuse.
Her lawyers maintained they need months of additional preparation because of the new charges, making it impossible to keep a July 12 trial date.
Prosecutors said the new charges should not require substantial additional work because they add a single victim to the three victims already described in the indictment.
The judge did not make an immediate decision on a possible new date for the trial, but told lawyers she wants to avoid a long delay.
Maxwell, 59, has been in custody in Brooklyn since her arrest last July at a New Hampshire estate where her lawyers say she went to live to avoid the spotlight of media attention and to remain safe from threats.
However, prosecutors say she took steps to hide her whereabouts and movements.
Maxwell has failed three times to be granted bail despite offering a $28.5 million package and agreeing to live with electronic monitoring and armed guards who would ensure she does not leave a New York City residence.
She has also offered to give up citizenship in the United Kingdom and France.
A bail appeal hearing is scheduled next week before the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals.
A lawyer for Maxwell requested the in-person arraignment on Friday, citing "media coverage" and a "debacle" during a remote hearing in a related civil case before another judge, when members of the public clogged up a line provided to people outside the courthouse to listen to proceedings.
Epstein took his own life at a Manhattan federal jail in August 2019 while awaiting a sex trafficking trial.