Ghislaine Maxwell should not get bail while awaiting trial for her alleged involvement in Jeffrey Epstein’s child sex trafficking because she is an “extreme risk of flight”, prosecutors said on Monday, firing back at her legal team’s arguments that she is not.
“The government respectfully submits that the defendant cannot meet her burden of overcoming the statutory presumption in favor of detention,” read a court filing by Audrey Strauss, the acting US attorney for the southern district of New York.
“There are no conditions of bail that would assure the defendant’s presence in court proceedings in this case. Accordingly, any application for bail should be denied.”
Maxwell is a citizen of France, prosecutors pointed out, saying that the country “does not extradite its citizens to the United States pursuant to French law”. Maxwell also has US and UK passports.
The Manhattan US attorney’s office’s arguments were in dramatic opposition to her lawyer’s claims on Friday. A court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday for Maxwell’s arraignment and bail arguments.
Maxwell’s lawyers contended that she did not go into hiding after Epstein’s arrest last July. They claimed that she contacted federal prosecutors through her attorneys after he was apprehended, and “maintained regular contact” with authorities. Maxwell had simply wanted to maintain a low profile because of the “carnival-like” media scrutiny, they claimed.
Maxwell’s lawyers cited the “the Covid-19 crisis and its impact on detained defendants” in arguing for bail.
“As this court has noted, the Covid-19 pandemic represents an unprecedented health risk to incarcerated individuals, and Covid-19-related restrictions on attorney communications with pre-trial detainees significantly impair a defendant’s ability to prepare her defense,” Maxwell’s lawyers said.
“Simply put, under these circumstances, if Ms Maxwell continues to be detained, her health will be at serious risk and she will not be able to receive a fair trial.”
Maxwell’s lawyers put forth several proposed bail conditions. The proposal included a $5m personal recognizance bond co-signed by six financially responsible persons, secured by property in the UK worth over $3.75m. The lawyers also proposed restricting her travel to the New York City region, surrendering all her travel documents, instituting home confinement in New York City with GPS monitoring, and limiting visitors to her immediate family, close friends and lawyers.
Authorities have said that Epstein, a convicted sex offender, and Maxwell had a “personal and professional” relationship, in addition to an “intimate relationship” between about 1994 and 1997. Epstein killed himself in jail last August.
“Maxwell played a critical role in helping Epstein to identify, befriend and groom minor victims for abuse,” Strauss, the acting US attorney for the southern district of New York, alleged at a press conference several hours after Maxwell’s arrest. “In some cases, Maxwell participated in the abuse.
“She set the trap. She pretended to be a woman they [alleged victims] could trust.”
Maxwell is charged in a 17-page Manhattan federal court indictment with crimes such as conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and perjury.
Numerous women have accused Maxwell of bringing them into Epstein’s circle, luring them into giving him massages, during which they were then pushed into sexual activity. Before Maxwell was indicted, she had never faced criminal charges related to these accusations.
Maxwell has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.
“Ms Maxwell vigorously denies the charges, intends to fight them, and is entitled to the presumption of innocence,” her lawyers wrote in court papers.