Ghislaine Maxwell Must Prepare Defense From Jail, Panel Rules
(Bloomberg) -- British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was denied release from jail by a federal appeals panel after a lower court repeatedly rejected her request to post bond while she awaits trial on sex trafficking charges.
Maxwell, 59, is being held in a lockup in Brooklyn, New York, on charges stemming from her time with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan turned down all three of her earlier efforts to be freed, judging her a flight risk.
Despite its ruling, during a hearing Monday the appeals panel expressed concern over authorities at the Brooklyn jail checking on Maxwell every 15 minutes at night by shining a light in her cell to see if she’s still breathing. Her lawyer complained it was depriving her of sleep and impairing her ability to prepare her defense.
Epstein died in a federal jail in Manhattan in 2019 while facing sex crimes charges, accused of abusing and assaulting girls he carefully groomed for the purpose. The U.S. went on to allege that Maxwell served as his right hand. She denies wrongdoing.
Epstein’s death was ruled a suicide. The Federal Bureau of Prisons came under fire for the incident, which deprived his accusers of the chance to see him tried. Maxwell’s attorneys have argued that their client is now suffering for the authorities’ failure to properly supervise Epstein -- what they call the “Epstein effect.”
“There’s no evidence she’s suicidal,” Maxwell’s lawyer for the appeal, David Oscar Markus, told the court Monday. “Why is the Bureau of Prisons doing this? They’re doing it because Jeffrey Epstein died on their watch.”
Maxwell should be released because she is being detained in “horrific conditions” that prevent her from adequately reviewing the millions of pages of evidence collected in the case, Markus said. He also said guards at the jail were improperly recording her movements when outside her cell.
In its one-page order Tuesday, the panel directed that Maxwell’s lawyers file their objections to the nighttime checks to Nathan, who is presiding over the case. Nathan ordered the prison authorities to answer Maxwell’s complaints.
The warden at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment.
The case is U.S. v. Maxwell, 20-cr-00330, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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