Politics

Ghislaine Maxwell civil case records release on hold as accused Jeffrey Epstein conspirator files appeal

Key Points
  • Key civil court documents in a case involving British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell will not be publicly released as scheduled Thursday, a judge said.
  • Maxwell, an alleged Jeffrey Epstein sex crimes conspirator, is asking an appeals court to block the documents' disclosure.
  • Epstein was a former friend of Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, as well as of Prince Andrew. He killed himself in jail in 2019 while awaiting trial on child sex trafficking charges.
Ghislaine Maxwell speaks at the Arctic Circle Forum in Reykjavik, Iceland October 2013.
The Arctic Circle via Reuters

Key court documents in a case involving British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell will not be publicly released as scheduled Thursday, as the alleged Jeffrey Epstein sex crimes conspirator asked an appeals court to block their disclosure.

On Wednesday, Maxwell's lawyer asked Manhattan federal Judge Loretta Preska to reconsider her decision from last week to have the civil defamation case documents released starting Thursday.

The files include hundreds of pages of depositions of Maxwell and Virginia Giuffre, who accused Epstein of sexually abusing her as a teen.

Giuffre also claims that Maxwell, a former girlfriend and longtime confidant of the wealthy investor Epstein, recruited her for his abuse, and also directed her to have sex with a slew of rich and powerful  men.

Preska on Wednesday night denied what she called an "eleventh-hour request" for reconsideration of her unsealing order by Maxwell, who is currently being held in a Brooklyn, New York, federal jail on recently filed criminal charges that she enabled Epstein's abuse of several underage girls in the mid-1990s.

But the judge in a written ruling also delayed, for up to several days, the release of some key documents in the case to give Maxwell time to file an appeal.

The release of the deposition transcripts of Maxwell and Giuffre, and any document that quotes from or discloses information in those transcripts, is delayed until at least Monday, Preska said.

But any sealed document that does not cite or mention information from those transcripts should be released Thursday, the judge ordered.

Maxwell's lawyer promptly filed an appeal of Preska's decision to unseal the files with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in Manhattan.

The appeal could delay any release of the files indefinitely.

Giuffre and Maxwell previously settled the lawsuit at the center of the case, in which Giuffre alleged she had been defamed by Maxwell.

But The Miami Herald newspaper, whose investigation of Epstein led to his arrest on federal child sex trafficking charges in July 2019, had sued to win release of the documents.

Last year, more than 2,000 other pages of documents in the case were unsealed and released to the public at the direction of the 2nd Circuit appeals court, over Maxwell's objection.

Preska's ruling last week set the stage for the release of almost all of the remaining files.

Maxwell, 58, was arrested in New Hampshire in early July on federal charges that she recruited and groomed young girls, one as young as 14 years old, to be abused by Epstein, and that in some cases she joined in with him on the abuse.

The daughter of Robert Maxwell, the media baron exposed as a massive fraudster after his mysterious death at sea, is also accused of perjury by allegedly falsely denying under oath, in her deposition in Giuffre's civil case, knowledge of Epstein's misdeeds.

A judge two weeks ago denied bail to Maxwell, who has pleaded not guilty in the criminal case. The judge said that Maxwell represented a "substantial" flight risk given her wealth and her citizenship in France, which does not extradite its citizens.

Epstein, 66, killed himself last August in a federal jail in Manhattan, less than two months after being arrested on child sex trafficking charges that related to his alleged abuse of dozens of underage girls from 2002 through 2006 at his residences in Manhattan and in Palm Beach, Florida.

He previously served 13 months in jail in Florida after pleading guilty in 2008 to state sex crime charges, one of which involved paying for sex from an underage girl.

Before his conviction in that case, Epstein had counted among his high-profile friends President Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, as well as Britain's Prince Andrew.

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

Giuffre has said that her alleged recruitment by Maxwell occurred when she was 17 years old and working as an assistant in the spa at Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach

She also claims that one of the men she was directed by Maxwell to have sex with was Andrew, who is the second son of Queen Elizabeth II. Andrew has denied her claims.

Prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, who lodged the charges against both Epstein and Maxwell, have said for months that they want to interview Andrew about Epstein, but have also said that the Duke of York has rebuffed their efforts despite publicly offering his assistance.

Andrew's lawyers in June denied that was the case. They said at the time that Andrew has three times so far this year offered to assist the U.S. Department of Justice in its investigation.

NBC News reported that month that prosecutors had formally sought through the British government to question Andrew in the probe.

Last week, at a White House news conference where he was asked about Maxwell's criminal case, Trump said, "I just wish her well, frankly."

The president noted that he had "met her numerous times over the years."