Attorneys for alleged child sexual abuser Ghislaine Maxwell on July 10 asked a federal judge to release their client on a $5 million bond, arguing that prosecutors have not met the burden of proving that she is a flight risk and that prolonged detention would expose the defendant to an increased risk of becoming ill with COVID-19.
Maxwell was charged on July 2 for her role in the sexual exploitation of minor girls by Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire who purportedly committed suicide while in detention in August last year. Federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York alleged that Maxwell has been effectively hiding since Epstein was indicted.
Maxwell’s attorneys told the court that she denies the charges, including the allegation that she had been in hiding.
“Ms. Maxwell vigorously denies the charges, intends to fight them, and is entitled to the presumption of innocence,” the attorneys wrote in an opposition memo (pdf). “Far from “hiding,” she has lived in the United States since 1991, has litigated civil cases arising from her supposed ties to Epstein, and has not left the country even once since Epstein’s arrest a year ago, even though she was aware of the pending, and highly publicized, criminal investigation.”
In a request (pdf) to keep Maxwell detained, prosecutors argued that she is a flight risk due to her vast financial resources, the prospect of a significant prison term, lack of physical or familial ties to the United States and the fact that she holds citizenships in the United Kingdom and France.
Maxwell’s attorneys countered by claiming that she has close ties to her siblings and their children.
“Ms. Maxwell has maintained extremely close relationships with her six siblings and her nephews and nieces. They all stood by her in the aftermath of the July 2019 indictment of Epstein and continue to stand by her now,” the attorneys wrote. “Maxwell also has numerous friends in the United States who themselves have children, and she is a godmother to many of them.”
Maxwell faces a prison sentence of up to 35 years if she is convicted of the six charges against her. In addition to her alleged enticement and transportation of minor girls to engage in illegal sex acts, she is charged with two counts of perjury for allegedly lying about her conduct under oath. The prosecutors argued that Maxwell, 58, is an extreme flight risk due to, in part, the prospect of spending the rest of her life in prison.
“As a result of her disturbing and callous conduct, Maxwell now faces the very real prospect of serving many years in prison. The strength of the Government’s evidence and the substantial prison term the defendant would face upon conviction all create a strong incentive for the defendant to flee,” the prosecutors stated. “In short, Maxwell has three passports, large sums of money, extensive international connections, and absolutely no reason to stay in the United States and face the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence.”
Maxwell’s attorneys argued that her wealth and multiple citizenships are inconsequential to the argument to detain her as a matter of law.
“The government’s remaining arguments—about Ms. Maxwell’s passports, citizenship, travel, and financial means— also fail because they would require that every defendant with multiple citizenship and financial means be denied bail, which is simply not the law,” the attorneys said.
Maxwell’s youngest alleged victim was 14 years old, according to the indictment (pdf). She has said she was sexually involved with Epstein, though her attorneys told the court that she has not been in touch with him for more than a decade.