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People News

Ghislaine Maxwell is denied bail by U.S. judge

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Monday denied bail to Ghislaine Maxwell, citing the risk the British socialite might flee from charges she assisted in the late financier Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking of girls.

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan said federal prosecutors persuaded her that Maxwell “poses a flight risk” despite her proposed $28.5 million bail package, and should remain jailed because “no conditions of release” reasonably assured she would appear in court.

Lawyers for Maxwell did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss in Manhattan declined to comment.

Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty to helping Epstein recruit and groom girls as young as 14 years old for sex in the mid-1990s, and not guilty to perjury for denying her involvement under oath.

She has been jailed at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn following her July 2 arrest at her New Hampshire home, where prosecutors said she was hiding out.

The proposed bail package included $22.5 million posted by Maxwell and her husband, as well as home confinement with electronic monitoring and 24-hour guard to ensure Maxwell remained safe and would not escape.

Maxwell said she wanted to stay in New York to clear her name, while her lawyers objected to jail conditions including invasive searches and surveillance by flashlight-toting guards who woke her every 15 minutes to ensure she was still breathing.

But Nathan, who rejected a $5 million bail package for Maxwell in July, said none of the new arguments had a “material bearing” on whether Maxwell was a flight risk.

In opposing bail, prosecutors cited Maxwell’s abilities to hide her wealth and evade capture, and the prospect she might flee to France or the United Kingdom, where she holds citizenships and they said she might elude extradition.

Maxwell faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted. Her trial is scheduled for July 12, 2021.

Epstein, 66, killed himself in a Manhattan jail in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr criticized errors by jail personnel that he said contributed to Epstein’s death.

Nathan described her “bottom line” conclusions in a two-page order. A longer opinion explaining her reasoning will be filed after lawyers for Maxwell and the government propose redactions to account for potentially confidential information.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler and Richard Chang

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