Maxwell Can’t Block Release of Racy Testimony, Court Says
(Bloomberg) -- Ghislaine Maxwell can’t prevent the release of a 2016 deposition she argued would prevent her from getting a fair trial on charges that she participated in a sex-trafficking scheme with former boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein.
A federal appeals court in Manhattan on Monday refused to overturn a decision by a federal judge who authorized release of a deposition from a defamation lawsuit brought by one of her alleged victims, Virginia Giuffre.
“We cannot conclude the district court abused its discretion in ordering the unsealing of the deposition,” the three-judge appellate panel said, adding that Maxwell’s arguments are “without merit.”
The British socialite, who had appealed the rulings on Oct. 13, is being held in a Brooklyn lockup while she awaits trial next year on charges she trafficked girls as young as 14 for Epstein’s abuse, participated in some of the alleged assaults and lied in the testimony that the judges ordered unsealed.
Laura Menninger, a lawyer for Maxwell, didn’t immediately return phone or email messages seeking comment.
Maxwell, who has pleaded not guilty, told the Manhattan-based appeals court last week that her chance of a fair trial in the criminal case would be “irreparably harmed” if her April 2016 deposition was made public. Her lawyers argued the material included “intrusive questioning” about her sex life that she had answered based on her expectation of confidentiality and that its disclosure would “forever let the cat out of the bag.”
Her deposition was part of a defamation lawsuit by Giuffre, who claimed Maxwell and Epstein made her the financier’s sex slave when she was 16. Giuffre sued Maxwell in 2015 for calling her account “obvious lies.” The case was later settled for an undisclosed amount.
In July, U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska ordered the 418-page transcript unsealed. It’s the only substantive public record from Maxwell about what she did for Epstein. Prosecutors allege she lied nine times in the deposition when she denied knowledge of Epstein’s activities, including his recruitment of underage girls and his interactions with underage women at his properties.
Maxwell’s lawyers say the deposition included questions about “consensual and intimate conduct,” and that disclosing that testimony could prejudice a jury in her criminal case. Adam Mueller, a lawyer for Maxwell, told the appeals court the deposition included suggestive questions he said were akin to “When did you stop beating your wife?”
In August 2019, a day after portions of Maxwell’s deposition and other material tied to Epstein were made public, Epstein was found dead in his Manhattan jail where he was awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges involving underage girls. Authorities later ruled it a suicide.
In a separate decision Monday, Maxwell lost her challenge to a ruling by U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan, who said she couldn’t use evidence she obtained from her pending criminal case in civil suits brought against her.
Federal prosecutors told the court that disclosure of the evidence could affect an “ongoing” federal grand jury investigation into Epstein’s alleged co-conspirators.
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