#minorsextrafficking | Ghislaine Maxwell denied bail, pleads not guilty to Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking link

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. Prosecutors have said Maxwell faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted.

Annie Farmer, who has accused Maxwell of enabling her abuse, said during the hearing that the defendant “has never shown any remorse for her heinous crimes” and told the court “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 told the court.

“Without Ghislaine, Jeffrey could not have done what he did,” an unidentified accuser added in a statement.

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This accuser said she knew Maxwell for more than 10 years and still felt threatened, adding, “If she is out, I need to be protected.”

“Off the grid”

Maxwell’s lawyers had sought a bail package including a $US5 million ($7.1 million) bond and home confinement with electronic monitoring.

“The defendant has the ability to live in hiding, she’s good at it,” Alison Moe, a federal prosecutor, said in arguing against bail.

Moe added that Maxwell has demonstrated she can “live off the grid, indefinitely”. Moe said it took a year after Epstein’s arrest to find Maxwell. Prosecutors said her wealth and multiple citizenships – American, French and British – also supported the need for continued detention.

Maxwell, Epstein’s former girlfriend and longtime associate, was arrested in Bradford, New Hampshire, where authorities said she was hiding out at a 63-hectare property she bought in December in an all-cash transaction with her identity shielded. Maxwell has been held since July 6 at the Metropolitan Detention Centre, a Brooklyn jail.

“Not guilty, your honour,” Maxwell said after the judge asked her how she wished to plead to the charges.

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 August 10 at age 66 in a Manhattan jail.

Prosecutors accused Maxwell of luring girls by asking them about their lives, schools and families and taking them shopping or to movies – acts, they said, that served as “the prequel” to Epstein’s abuse. Epstein has been linked socially to several powerful figures including President Donald Trump, former president Bill Clinton and Britain’s Prince Andrew.

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Maxwell’s lawyers also argued that bail was justified because she might contract COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in the Brooklyn jail.

Prosecutors said on Monday that when FBI agents went to arrest Maxwell, they had to forcibly enter her home, where she hid in an interior room, and found a mobile phone wrapped in tin foil in an apparent effort to evade detection.

Maxwell’s lawyer, Mark Cohen, said at the hearing that the door was open to Maxwell’s home and her mobile phone was stored in a secure bag to prevent hacking by the media.

Maxwell also used former British military personnel to guard her in New Hampshire, prosecutors said.

Her lawyers have previewed Maxwell’s possible defences.

These include that her alleged misconduct occurred long ago and would be hard to prosecute, and that she was shielded by Epstein’s 2007 plea agreement with federal prosecutors in Miami, which covered “any potential co-conspirators”.

❏ Support is available for those who may be distressed by phoning Lifeline 13 11 14; Mensline 1300 789 978; Kids Helpline 1800 551 800; beyondblue 1300 224 636.

Reuters

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