Ghislaine Maxwell denied bail after pleading not guilty to all charges in Epstein case

14 July 2020, 18:26

Ghislaine Maxwell faced a judge via video call on Tuesday
Ghislaine Maxwell faced a judge via video call on Tuesday. Picture: Getty
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Ghislaine Maxwell has been denied bail after pleading not guilty to all criminal charges related to her alleged dealings with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.

The billionaire's former girlfriend faced a judge in a Manhattan courthouse via video link shortly after 1pm local time (6pm GMT) on Tuesday.

The hearing determined that Maxwell will remain in jail until trial on charges that she recruited girls for the disgraced financier Epstein to sexually abuse more than two decades ago and that she lied about her role in depositions in 2016.

Maxwell, 58, has formally filed a not-guilty plea, along with arguments over whether she would flee if released on bail.

She has been charged with recruiting at least three girls, one as young as 14, for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 1997.

An indictment alleged that she helped groom the victims to endure sexual abuse and was sometimes there when Epstein abused them.

When asked for her pleas for the criminal charges, she told US District Judge Alison Nathan: "Not guilty, your honour."

The judge has scheduled her trial for just under a year's time on 12 July 2021.

Judge Nathan denied her bail, saying she poses a substantial flight risk and the court has now been adjourned.

Ghislaine Maxwell has been held at the Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn
Ghislaine Maxwell has been held at the Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn. Picture: PA

Maxwell has been held without bail since her 2 July arrest at her million-dollar New Hampshire estate, where prosecutors say she refused to open the door for FBI agents, who broke through to find that she had retreated to an interior room.

The judge also addressed the defendant's concerns about being at risk of catching coronavirus, nothing that it would not be grounds for her release on its own, otherwise every other detainee would need to be released before trial.

The British socialite, who faces up to 35 years in prison, appeared with her hair pulled back and wearing a brown T-shirt and glasses.

She has so far faced two of her accusers, who gave written statements to the court, while one spoke via video link.

Prosecuting lawyer Alison Moe read one of the statements from an anonymous accuser who described the socialite's "calculating" manipulation.

The accuser said: "I knew Ghislaine Maxwell for over 10 years. Without Ghislaine, Jeffrey could not have done [this].

"She [Maxwell] was in charge. She egged him [Epstein] on. I have great fear that Ghislaine Maxwell will flee."

Participants appeared by video on a screen in a large jury assembly room at a Manhattan courthouse where the 60 or so spectators were tested for fevers and answered questions related to Covid-19.

A year earlier, Epstein took his life several weeks after he too was confronted at a bail hearing by two accusers who insisted that he should remain locked up while awaiting sex trafficking charges which alleged that he abused girls at his Manhattan and Florida mansions in the early 2000s.

Maxwell, 58, has been held without bail since being arrested on 2 July at her million-dollar New Hampshire estate, where prosecutors say she refused to open the door for FBI agents, who broke in to find that she had retreated to an interior room.

In the indictment, she is charged with recruiting at least three girls, one as young as 14, for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 1997.

It alleges that she helped groom the victims to accept sexual abuse and was sometimes there when Epstein abused them. It also alleges that she lied during a 2016 deposition in a civil case stemming from Epstein's abuse of girls and women.

Among the most sensational accusations is a claim by one Epstein victim, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, that Maxwell arranged for her to have sex with the Duke of York at her London townhouse.

Pricne Andrew strenuously denies the allegations.

Read more: Prince Andrew 'bewildered' by claims he hasn't offered to cooperate in Epstein case

In court papers, Maxwell's lawyers argued that Epstein's death left the media "wrongly trying to substitute her for Epstein - even though she had 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".

The hearing comes a day after prosecutors argued in court papers that the British socialite is likely to flee the country if she is freed on $5 million bail, which her lawyers recommended.

"The defendant has not only the motive to flee, but the means to do so swiftly and effectively," prosecutors wrote, citing her access to millions of dollars and the scant information about her finances provided by her lawyers.

Maxwell's lawyers say in court papers that their client will remain at home, protected by electronic monitoring, private security and her friends and two siblings who live in the United States.

"Ms Maxwell vigorously denies the charges, intends to fight them, and is entitled to the presumption of innocence," they wrote.

They said she has lived in the US since 1991 and has not left the country in the last year "even though she was aware of the pending, and highly publicised, criminal investigation".

Epstein had a wide circle of friends including the Duke of York, Donald Trump and former US president Bill Clinton.

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