Ghislaine Maxwell blasts fresh charges as prosecutorial ‘gamesmanship’
Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite and former girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein, slammed prosecutors for expanding their indictment against her by adding sex-trafficking charges, calling it “obvious tactical gamesmanship” that may force her to ask for a delay to her trial.
On Monday, prosecutors added more heft to their case by directly accusing Maxwell of sex trafficking minors as recently as 2004.
Maxwell, 59, has been in jail in Brooklyn since her arrest in July on a host of crimes, including a scheme to entice minors to be sexually abused by Epstein.
She has denied all charges made against her.
The previous charges centred on claims of abuse dating back to 1994-1997. Monday’s superseding amended indictment adds a fourth victim, saying that between 2001 and 2004 Maxwell and Epstein recruited an unnamed 14-year-old girl to engage in sex acts with Epstein at his home in Palm Beach, Florida.
But Maxwell fired back late on Wednesday, arguing the new charges “drastically” change the focus of the case and hamper her ability to prepare for trial.
In a letter to the trial judge, Maxwell’s lawyer Bobbi Sternheim complained that when the socialite was first arraigned on July 14, 2020, prosecutors said they didn’t intend to file additional charges.
The trial, which is scheduled to start July 12, was originally projected to last two weeks. But Ms Sternheim said it may take at least that amount of time to select jurors who can be fair in a case that has received extraordinary media attention and where “dozens” of new witnesses could be called.
“M. Maxwell is entitled to a fair trial with effective assistance of counsel,” Ms Sternheim said. “If counsel feel that additional time is required to guarantee those constitutional rights, Ms Maxwell will suffer the consequence by her continued detention.”
Maxwell has three times failed to persuade the judge to free her on bond and in her letter, Ms Sternheim again argued that her jailing has also hampered her ability to review evidence.
“The court has the power – and, indeed, the discretion – to accommodate this constitutional clash,” Ms Sternheim wrote. “Granting a continuance and releasing Ms Maxwell on the most restrictive conditions of home detention. Surely, the court can impose conditions that ‘clip her wings’ and satisfy perceived flight concerns without keeping Ms Maxwell locked in a Bureau of Prisons cage.”
Maxwell’s defence team also asked that she have an in-person arraignment on the revised indictment and that the government call witnesses to show the strength of its case. When she was arraigned last year, US District Court Judge Alison Nathan directed the hearing be held remotely with Maxwell attending it virtually from the federal jail in Brooklyn.
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