Jeffrey Epstein’s former girlfriend pleaded not guilty today to charges she recruited girls and women for the financier to sexually abuse more than two decades ago.
British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell appeared in a video court hearing in Manhattan.
Maxwell, 58, has been held without bail since her July 2 arrest at her million-dollar New Hampshire estate, where prosecutors say she refused to open the door for FBI agents, who busted through to find that she had retreated to an interior room.
She was charged with recruiting at least three girls, one as young as 14, for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 1997.
An indictment alleged that she helped groom the victims to endure sexual abuse and was sometimes there when Epstein abused them. It also alleged that she lied during a 2016 deposition in a civil case stemming from Epstein’s abuse of girls and women.
Epstein killed himself in August 2019, several weeks after he was confronted by two accusers at a bail hearing who insisted that he should remain in jail while awaiting sex trafficking charges that alleged he abused girls at his Manhattan and Florida mansions in the early 2000s.
In court papers, Maxwell’s lawyers argued that Epstein’s death left the media “wrongly trying to substitute her for Epstein — even though she’d had no contact with Epstein for more than a decade, had never been charged with a crime or been found liable in any civil litigation, and has always denied any allegations of claimed misconduct”.
Prosecutors had argued in court papers filed yesterday that Maxwell was a danger to flee the country if she was freed on $5 million (NZD$7.6 million) bail, which her lawyers recommended.
“The defendant has not only the motive to flee, but the means to do so swiftly and effectively,” prosecutors wrote, citing her access to millions of dollars and the scant information about her finances provided by her lawyers.
Maxwell’s lawyers have said she “vigorously denies the charges, intends to fight them, and is entitled to the presumption of innocence”.