Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite accused of grooming girls as young as 14 for sexual abuse alongside Jeffrey Epstein, has been denied bail by a New York judge who determined that she poses a significant flight risk.
Maxwell, 58, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to six felony counts over her alleged participation in the abuse of several underage girls between 1994 and 1997. Prosecutors say she manipulated the girls by asking about their lives and taking them shopping or to the movies, building trust before introducing them to situations where they could be sexually abused, including at her London home and Epstein’s properties in New York, Florida and New Mexico.
Her arrest on July 2 came nearly one year to the day after authorities arrested Epstein, who died in an apparent suicide last August after being denied bail.
If convicted, Maxwell could be sentenced to 35 years behind bars. A trial date has been set for July 12, 2021.
At her bail hearing Tuesday, which was held by videoconference due to the coronavirus crisis, two of her accusers argued firmly against her release from Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center.
One woman, who requested a written statement be read aloud and attributed to her anonymously, said the way Maxwell nurtured their relationship had been “sociopathic.” She feared the socialite, whom she alleged to be an integral part of Epstein’s alleged crimes.
“Without Ghislaine, Jeffrey could not have done what he did,” Jane Doe said, alleging that Maxwell “would have done anything to satisfy Mr. Epstein.”
Part of the reason Jane Doe was so afraid to speak out in court was because, after emerging as a witness in a past case involving Maxwell, she received a phone call in the middle of the night threatening the life of her 2-year-old child if she testified. She believes Maxwell has the resources to disappear “at a moment’s notice” and to “make others disappear, if she needs to.”
Another accuser, Annie Farmer, echoed Jane Doe’s belief that Maxwell would surely flee if released on bail.
“She has associates across the globe, some of great means,” Farmer said in a written statement read aloud for the court.
Prosecutors argued in court documents that “there is every reason to think” Maxwell would flee the country if released on bail as her attorneys requested, citing her access to wealth, her French citizenship and apparent skill at “living in hiding.” France does not extradite its own citizens to the United States.
At the time of her arrest, prosecutors said, FBI agents watched Maxwell spot them from a window of the New Hampshire address where she had been residing. She ignored their command to open the door and instead ran to another room, closing herself inside. During a sweep of the house, FBI agents found a cellphone wrapped in tinfoil on top of a desk, “a seemingly misguided effort to evade detection … by law enforcement.”
An attorney for Maxwell argued that the government misrepresented its description of the arrest, saying his client did not try to flee; she was still in pajamas when she saw the agents.
Maxwell said later that her brother had hired former British soldiers to guard the property, and that she had been sending them out to make purchases while she stayed at the house ― which had been purchased in cash by way of an LLC.
At the hearing, prosecutors alleged that Maxwell had posed as a married journalist named “Janet Marshall” when considering whether to buy the $1 million home, although she later told them she did not know the name of the company that bought it.
They also argued that Maxwell has been persistently uncooperative with efforts to uncover her sources of income. The socialite does not appear to have held any full-time job for decades.
“We cannot make sense of this lifestyle and these financial circumstances. It just doesn’t make sense,” assistant U.S. attorney Alison Moe said.
Maxwell’s attorney pushed back, arguing that she was not being purposefully opaque but had experienced financial turmoil ― she was dropped from her bank ― following Epstein’s arrest last summer.
Maxwell’s wide-ranging social connections have renewed scrutiny of a number of high-profile celebrities, politicians and royals who have been photographed with her or have been known to attend the same events.
Among them is Prince Andrew, who has been photographed with his arm around 17-year-old accuser Virginia Giuffre and Maxwell. He has denied any participation in Epstein and Maxwell’s alleged crimes.