NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Tuesday denied bail for Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime associate charged with luring young girls so the late financier could sexually abuse them, after she pleaded not guilty at a hearing in which two women decried her actions as heinous.
U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan rejected Maxwell’s bid for bail, agreeing with prosecutors that the wealthy socialite posed a flight risk. Maxwell, the judge said during a hearing lasting more than two hours, has “demonstrated sophistication in hiding her resources and herself.”
Prosecutors have accused Maxwell, 58, of helping Epstein recruit and eventually abuse girls as young as 14 from 1994 to 1997 and lying about her role in depositions in 2016. Nathan set a trial date for July 12, 2021.
Maxwell appeared by video from the Brooklyn jail where she has been held since July 6. She appeared tired, with her hair pulled back, and was wearing a brown T-shirt and tortoiseshell glasses.
Arrested on July 2, Maxwell has been charged with six criminal counts, including four related to transporting minors for illegal sexual acts and two for perjury. Nathan said the evidence currently “appears strong” against Maxwell, who faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted.
Statements by two women who have accused Maxwell of enabling their abuse were presented at the hearing. One of the women, Annie Farmer, said Maxwell “has never shown any remorse for her heinous crimes” and that “the danger Maxwell poses must be taken seriously.”
“She is a sexual predator who groomed and abused me and countless other children and young women,” Farmer said via an audio feed.
In a statement read to the court by federal prosecutor Alison Moe, an unidentified second woman said, “Without Ghislaine, Jeffrey could not have done what he did.” The woman said she knew Maxwell for more than 10 years and still felt threatened, adding, “If she is out, I need to be protected.”
Prosecutors have accused Maxwell of luring girls by asking them about their lives, schools and families and taking them shopping or to movies - “the prequel” to Epstein’s abuse.
‘OFF THE GRID’
Maxwell’s lawyers had sought a bail package including a $5 million bond and home confinement with electronic monitoring.
“No combination of conditions could reasonably assure her presence in court,” the judge said in ordering continued confinement.
“The defendant has the ability to live in hiding. She’s good at it,” Moe said in arguing against bail.
Maxwell has demonstrated she can “live off the grid indefinitely,” Moe said, adding it took a year after Epstein’s arrest to find her. Prosecutors said her wealth and multiple citizenships - American, French and British - also supported the need for detention.
Maxwell, Epstein’s former girlfriend and longtime associate, was arrested in Bradford, New Hampshire, where authorities said she was hiding out at a sprawling property she bought in December in an all-cash transaction with her identity shielded.
“Not guilty, your honor,” Maxwell said after the judge asked for her plea.
In seeking bail, defense lawyer Mark Cohen had argued that Maxwell was not a flight risk and did not attempt to flee the premises when authorities arrived to arrest her. Maxwell was “not running out of the house, not looking for some secret tunnel,” Cohen said.
Cohen said Maxwell was being kept in a room at the jail with lights on at all times and at one point was not allowed to shower for 72 hours. Cohen also argued Maxwell could contract COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in jail.
Epstein was charged in July 2019 with sexually exploiting dozens of girls and women from 2002 to 2005 at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida. He hanged himself on Aug. 10 at age 66 in a Manhattan jail. Epstein has been linked socially to several powerful figures including President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton and Britain’s Prince Andrew.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel, Karen Freifeld and Brendan Pierson in New York and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Writing by Tom Hals; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Will Dunham
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