Politics

Ghislaine Maxwell seeks release on $5 million bail in Jeffrey Epstein child sex case, says prosecution barred by deal

Key Points
  • Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite criminally charged with facilitating Jeffrey Epstein's sexual abuse of underage girls, is asking for bail of $5 million, and contends that her prosecution is barred by a nonprosecution deal that the now-dead Epstein signed with federal authorities years ago.
  • She is accused of conspiring with Epstein to sexually abuse children as young as 14, and for lying about her alleged conduct as his procurer.
  • Epstein, a wealthy investor who was a former friend of Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, died last August from what has been ruled a jailhouse suicide.
Ghislaine Maxwell speaks at the Arctic Circle Forum in Reykjavik, Iceland October 2013.
The Arctic Circle via Reuters

Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite charged with facilitating Jeffrey Epstein's sexual abuse of underage girls, on Friday asked for bail of $5 million, and argued that her criminal case is barred by a nonprosecution deal that the now-dead Epstein signed with federal authorities years ago.

Maxwell, who has been held without bail since being arrested last week in New Hampshire, also proposes in a new court filing that she be released into home confinement with electronic monitoring in New York as her criminal case proceeds.

A bail hearing for her is scheduled for Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan.

"Ms. Maxwell vigorously denies the charges, intends to fight them, and is entitled to the presumption of innocence," her lawyers, Mark Cohen and Jeffrey Pagliuca, wrote in their filing.

The attorneys urged a judge to set a personal recognizance bond for Maxwell in the amount of $5 million. That bond would be secured by six co-signers, as well as by property in Britain worth $3.75 million.

The attorneys said that the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on prisoners, warrants Maxwell's release on bail, not only for health reasons but also to allow her to assist with her legal defense.

The lawyers noted that they have already had difficulty communicating with Maxwell, 58, since she has been locked up in a federal jail in Brooklyn, New York.

The also argued for bail on the grounds that she "has strong ties to the community," holds American citizenship, has resided in the U.S. for decades and has no criminal record

Maxwell, if granted bail, would agree to get visits at home from no one other than family, close friends and lawyers, according to her attorneys' filing.

They also said Maxwell would have a security staff who could report to authorities, and that she would also agree to limit any travel to New York City, Long Island and several counties north of the city.

The filing said that Maxwell had not had contact with Epstein, a former boyfriend, for more than a decade before he died in August in a federal jail in Manhattan from what has been officially ruled a suicide by hanging.

Prosecutors previously have said they want Maxwell detained without bail, calling her an extreme flight risk. They noted she holds several passports, citizenship in three countries, including Britain and France, and is wealthy.

But her lawyers in their filing wrote that she "has not left the country even once since Epstein's arrest a year ago, even though she was aware of the pending, and highly publicized, criminal investigation."

Maxwell, who is a daughter of the dead crooked media baron Robert Maxwell, was arrested at a 156-acre property in Bradford, New Hampshire, on July 2 on a six-count indictment that was issued by a federal grand jury in Manhattan. T

The $1 million property was purchased months ago by a legal entity set up to disguise the actual purchaser's real identity.

She is accused of conspiring with Epstein to sexually abuse children as young as 14 in the mid-1990s, and for lying under oath in civil litigation about her alleged conduct as his procurer.

Epstein, 66, died while awaiting trial on child sex trafficking charges that related to alleged conduct from 2002 through 2005 involving dozens of underage girls. His death came after a judge denied him bail.

A wealthy investor, Epstein was a former friend of Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, as well as of Britain's Prince Andrew.

VIDEO0:5800:58
NBC archive footage shows Trump partying with Jeffrey Epstein in 1992

Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 to Florida state criminal charges that included paying for sex with an underage girl, and served 13 months in jail.

That plea came after Epstein cut a deal in 2007 with federal prosecutors in South Florida to avoid prosecution on federal charges in exchange for admitting guilt in the state case.

Maxwell's lawyers in Friday's filing wrote that her "prosecution is barred by Epstein' non-prosecution agreement with the Department of Justice," which they wrote "covers any potential co-conspirators of Epstein."

The lawyers said the charges against her of "conspiracy, enticement of minors, and transporting of minors charges are time-barred and otherwise legally flawed," and that the two perjury charges "are subject to dismissal on several legal grounds."

In their filing, Maxwell's lawyers said that after Epstein's death, "the media focus quickly shifted to our client—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."

"Many of these stories and online posts were threatening and harassing to our client and those close to her," the lawyers wrote.

"But sometimes the simplest point is the most critical one: Ghislaine Maxwell is not Jeffrey Epstein," the lawyers wrote.

"She was not named in the government's indictment of Epstein in 2019, despite the fact that the government has been investigating this case for years. Instead, the current indictment is based on allegations of conduct that allegedly occurred roughly twenty-five years ago."

Correction: Maxwell, if granted bail, would agree to get visits at home from no one other than family, close friends and lawyers, according to her attorneys' filing. An earlier version misstated the terms.