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Ghislaine Maxwell poses ‘extreme flight risk’, denied bail

Ghislaine Maxwell appears via video link during her arraignment hearing where she was denied bail for her role aiding Jeffrey Epstein to recruit and eventually abuse of minor girls, in Manhattan Federal Court, in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S. July 14, 2020 in this courtroom sketch. REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

Ghislaine Maxwell poses ‘extreme flight risk’, denied bail

A US judge on Tuesday denied bail for Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein's longtime associate charged with luring young girls so the late financier could sexually abuse them, after she pleaded not guilty at a hearing in which two women decried her actions as heinous.

Ghislaine Maxwell poses ‘extreme flight risk’, denied bail

US District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan rejected Maxwell’s bid for bail, after prosecutors argued that the wealthy socialite posed an “extreme flight risk”. Maxwell, the judge said during a hearing lasting more than two hours, has “demonstrated sophistication in hiding her resources and herself”.

Prosecutors have accused Maxwell, 58, of helping Epstein recruit and eventually abuse girls as young as 14 from 1994 to 1997 and lying about her role in depositions in 2016. Nathan set a trial date for July 12, 2021.

Maxwell appeared by video from the Brooklyn jail where she is being held. She appeared tired, with her hair pulled back, and was wearing a brown T-shirt and tortoiseshell glasses.

Arrested on July 2, Maxwell has been charged with six criminal counts, including four related to transporting minors for illegal sexual acts and two for perjury. Nathan said the evidence at this stage “appears strong” against Maxwell, who faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted.

Two women who have accused Maxwell of enabling their abuse testified at the hearing. One of them, Annie Farmer, said Maxwell “has never shown any remorse for her heinous crimes” and that “the danger Maxwell poses must be taken seriously”.

“She is a sexual predator who groomed and abused me and countless other children and young women,” Farmer told the court.

In a statement read to the court by federal prosecutor Alison Moe, an unidentified second woman said, “Without Ghislaine, Jeffrey could not have done what he did.” The woman said she knew Maxwell for more than 10 years and still felt threatened, adding, “If she is out, I need to be protected.”

Media wait outside federal court for a bail hearing in the Ghislaine Maxwell case in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., July 14, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

‘OFF THE GRID’

Maxwell’s lawyers had sought a bail package including a $5 million bond and home confinement with electronic monitoring.

“No combination of conditions could reasonably assure her presence in court,” the judge said in ordering continued confinement.

“The defendant has the ability to live in hiding. She’s good at it,” Moe said in arguing against bail.

Moe added that Maxwell has demonstrated she can “live off the grid, indefinitely”. Moe said it took a year after Epstein’s arrest to find Maxwell. Prosecutors said her wealth and multiple citizenships – American, French and British – also supported the need for detention.

Maxwell, Epstein’s former girlfriend and longtime associate, was arrested in Bradford, New Hampshire, where authorities said she was hiding out at a sprawling property she bought in December in an all-cash transaction with her identity shielded.

“Not guilty, your honour,” Maxwell said after the judge asked for her plea.

In seeking bail, defence lawyer Mark Cohen complained about the conditions at the Brooklyn jail where she had been held since July 6, saying Maxwell was being kept in a room with the lights on at all times and at one point was not allowed to shower for 72 hours. The defence also argued Maxwell could contract COVID-19 in jail.

Epstein was charged in July 2019 with sexually exploiting dozens of girls and women from 2002 to 2005 at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida. He died on 10 August at age 66 in a Manhattan jail.

Prosecutors accused Maxwell of luring girls by asking them about their lives, schools and families and taking them shopping or to movies – acts, they said, that served as “the prequel” to Epstein’s abuse. Epstein has been linked socially to several powerful figures including President Donald Trump, former president Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew.

Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s most prominent accusers, said of Maxwell in a statement after the hearing, “The rest of her life should be spent behind bars.”

Reuters

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