Ghislaine Maxwell lawyers ask judge to scrap new indictment

File photo of Ghislaine Maxwell at Epsom races in 2000 (PA Archive)
23:53pm, Tue 25 May 2021
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Lawyers for British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell have urged a judge to dismiss a rewritten indictment against her, saying prosecutors merely want to blame her for the sex crimes of former boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein.

The papers, dated May 7, were filed publicly on Tuesday in Manhattan federal court. They are among numerous approaches — so far unsuccessful — that defence lawyers have taken to try to nullify charges alleging their client recruited teenage girls from 1994 to 2004 for Epstein to sexually abuse.

Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty and awaits a November trial from her jail cell, where she has remained since her arrest last July. Three efforts to have her freed on bail, twice with a 28.5 million dollar (£20.15 million) bail package, have been rejected by a judge. A federal appeals court has also refused to grant bail.

In the newly released document, defence lawyers brought up many of the same challenges they raised when she was first indicted, including that a non-prosecution agreement Epstein signed with federal prosecutors in Florida in the late 2000s protects her as well.

Cecil Wedding Duke Maxwell (PA Archive)

But they said the rewrite of the indictment that adds a fourth accuser and extends the span of the indictment from 1997 through 2004 “demonstrates just how far the government is willing to go to ‘get’ Ms Maxwell and disingenuously blame her for the crimes of Jeffrey Epstein”.

“No longer content to charge a 25-year-old case based on purported conduct in the 1990s, the government now sweeps in the 2000s through the allegations of one person—Accuser-4,” they wrote, using the pseudonym prosecutors used in place of the actual identity.

They said the woman’s allegations were known to prosecutors after the woman made her accusations more than a decade ago and yet Maxwell was not charged or named as a co-conspirator when authorities in Florida pursued cases against Epstein.

Epstein was arrested in July 2019 on sex trafficking charges. He took his own life a month later in a Manhattan federal jail.

In a filing of their own late on Tuesday, prosecutors defended their superseding indictment, saying they did not get a chance to speak to the fourth accuser by video until last summer and in person until January.

“The defendant’s argument that the Government acted in bad faith — to the extent she is making such an argument — is based on no evidence whatsoever, and for good reason: it is not true,” they wrote in a document dated last Friday.

They said the woman was interviewed only once by federal prosecutors in Florida in the 2000s and was not asked any questions about Maxwell.

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