Crime and Courts

Chief investigative reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.
Jeffrey Epstein

Bail Denied for Epstein Confidante Accused of Recruiting Girls for His Sexual Abuse

Ghislaine Maxwell pleaded not guilty. She will remain detained pending her trial. Her trial date is set for July 2021.

NBC Universal, Inc.

What to Know

  • Jeffrey Epstein confidante Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested in early July; she pleaded not guilty to charges she conspired with the disgraced financier to sexually abuse underage girls
  • Epstein, a friend to presidents and captains of industry, died by suicide last August while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges
  • Maxwell had a bail hearing Tuesday, where she sought to be released on a $5 million bond; the judge ultimately ordered her detained until trial

Jeffrey Epstein’s former confidante pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges she recruited girls for the financier to sexually abuse a quarter century before he killed himself in a Manhattan jail.

The hearing in Manhattan federal court also included bail arguments by attorneys for British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell who asked for her to be released on a $5 million bond. In the end, the judge determined that Maxwell will remain detained pending her trial. Her trial date is set for July 2021.

Judge Alison Nathan said that the facts presented by prosecutors are in-favor of detention.

"Ms. Maxwell has substantial international ties which would facilitate her living abroad," Nathan said, adding that "the risk is simply too great" for Maxwell to be released pending trial.

If Maxwell is convicted, she faces up to 35 years in prison. 

Maxwell showed up for the hearing wearing large, dark-rimmed glasses with her hair pulled back behind her head; she had on a standard brown prison jump shirt with a dark shirt on underneath. She sipped from a Styrofoam cup after she sat down and rubbed her eyes, then put her chin on her hands.

As the judge explained her reasoning for denying bail, Maxwell dropped her head repeatedly, appearing dejected. At one point, she appeared to wipe a tear from underneath one eye as she sat alone in a room at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where she has been housed since last week.

Federal prosecutor Alison Moe addressed the court about why Maxwell should be detained pending trial saying that "the government strongly believes this defendant presents an extreme risk of flight."

Moe went on to say that there were "serious red flags" and that Maxwell "has a strong incentive to flee." Prosecutors argued she has "significant and unexplained wealth," which provided her "the ability to live in hiding, and she's good at it."

Additionally, federal prosecutors said that when Maxwell was discovered, she had a cell phone wrapped in tin foil — a failed attempt to avoid detection. They also argued that she is a citizen of France, which has no extradition treaty with the U.S. and that she has ties to multiple Swiss bank accounts.

Meanwhile, Mark Cohen, attorney for Maxwell, said that because of COVID-19 and the restrictions at MDC because of the pandemic will make trial preparation impossible saying, "under these conditions is just not realistic."

According to Cohen, individuals who want to support Maxwell's bail package can't come forward because of the extraordinary publicity in this case, adding that Maxwell has received threats. He said that Maxwell deserved bail with tight restrictions because she's been living in the U.S. for a year knowing that she's under investigation, and that she was hiding in the New Hampshire estate — which was guarded by former British military members, prosecutors said — to avoid the media and the public, not law enforcement.

During the hearing, federal prosecutors said they've also discussed a broad protective order with defense attorneys which would prohibit their disclosure of evidence turned over as part of the discovery process.

Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite and heiress who became a confidante of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein and was later implicated in his alleged sexual crimes, has been transferred to New York City, where she is expected to have a bail hearing later this week. Jonathan Dienst reports.

Cohen said if the judge guaranteed Maxwell privacy, she could offer property and other items as part of her bail package.

Cohen also touched upon Maxwell's financing saying if there are any questions about her financial disclosures and what she has access to that information can be addressed through the conditions of her release, although he said he intends to challenge the case on the grounds of Epstein's non-disclosure agreement.

However, in the end Cohen's argument did not persuade the court and Maxwell was ordered to remain detained until her trial next year.

Additionally, Cohen argued that the alleged conduct pertaining to the case is 25 years old with no audio or video evidence. Cohen said the defense will challenge the filing of charges where the conduct occurred so long ago.

"The government chose to indict conduct that is 25 years old ... it's an effort to dance around the Non Prosecution Agreement," Cohen said, referring to a legal deal Epstein agreed to during a previous case.

At one point during the hearing, Moe was asked if prosecutors expect to file more charges in the form of a superseding indictment and charge more people. Moe said their investigation is ongoing but at this point they don't anticipate a superseding indictment in the case against Maxwell. She did not address one way or the other if there would be more defendants.

The confrontation with any of her accusers will be an unusual spectacle with participants appearing by video on a screen in a large jury assembly room at a Manhattan courthouse where the 60 or so spectators are tested for fevers and must answer questions related to the coronavirus.

In a written statement by one of the alleged victims identified as Jane Doe, and read by Moe, Jane Does said Maxwell "enjoyed drawing her victims in with perceive caring."

Meanwhile, alleged victim Annie Farmer, who spoke on the phone, said that Maxwell "has lied under oath and torments her survivors." Farmer said she first met Maxwell at age 16, calling her a sexual predator who groomed and abused her.

"She has demonstrated contempt for our legal system by committing perjury," Farmer said, adding: "Those that survived implore this court that she be detained pending trial."

A year earlier, Epstein took his life several weeks after he too 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.

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.

During Tuesday's hearing, Moe said Maxwell told pre-trial services, that she didn't know the entity that owned the house in New Hampshire where she was found, and simply told pre-trial services that "she was just allowed to be there."

However, Moe said she spoke to a FBI agent this morning who interviewed the real estate agent who sold the New Hampshire house says the owners introduced themselves as Scott and Jen Marshall with British accents. Moe says Scott Marshall told the agent he was working on a book.

Moe went on to say that the real estate agent told the FBI that the person who introduced herself as Jen Marshall matched the picture of Ghislaine Maxwell when she was presented a picture of her after her arrest.

The defense also argued Tuesday that Maxwell wasn't hiding at the time of her arrest since her attorneys had been in touch with federal prosecutors several times since Epstein's last case.

"We've been in contact with them, conservatively, eight to 10 times in the past year," Cohen said, adding he believed Maxwell should have been allowed to turn herself in to prosecutors instead of being arrested by the FBI. However, Moe contended there was no offer was made by Maxwell's attorneys for her to turn herself in and notes Cohen had said the same.

In an indictment, she is charged with recruiting at least three girls, one as young as 14, for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 1997.

The 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.

Socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was found by the FBI in New Hampshire and arrested this morning, Jonathan Dienst reports.

In court papers, her 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."

The hearing comes a day after prosecutors argued in court papers that the British socialite is a danger to flee the country if she is freed on $5 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 say in court papers that their client will remain at home, protected by electronic monitoring, private security and her friends and two siblings who live in the United States.

“Ms. Maxwell vigorously denies the charges, intends to fight them, and is entitled to the presumption of innocence," her lawyers wrote.

They said she has lived in the U.S. since 1991 and has not left the country in the last year “even though she was aware of the pending, and highly publicized, criminal investigation."

Following Tuesday's decision to deny Maxwell bail, Jennifer Araoz, one of Epstein's alleged victims, released the following statement: “I am once again able to take another breath as Ghislaine Maxwell will be in jail until at least her trial date next July. Knowing that she is incarcerated for the foreseeable future allows me, and my fellow survivors, to have faith that we are on the right path. I would like to thank both the prosecutors and the judge for taking us one step closer to seeing that justice is served.”

Lisa Bloom, attorney for six Epstein accusers, one of whom also has sexual misconduct claims against Maxwell also issued a statement.

"We breathed a sigh of relief today. This is the first step toward restoring my clients' faith in the criminal justice system. They've been let down many times. Denying bail to Ms. Maxwell ensures that she cannot continue to hide and flee as the consequences of her actions close in on her," the statement read.

NBC News' Tom Winter contributed to this report.

Copyright NBC New York/Associated Press
Contact Us