#minorsextrafficking | Ghislaine Maxwell likely to flee in Jeffrey Epstein sex crime case

Ghislaine Maxwell attends VIP Evening of Conversation for Women’s Brain Health Initiative, Moderated by Tina Brown at Spring Studios on October 18, 2016 in New York City.

Sylvain Gaboury | Patrick McMullan | Getty Images

Federal prosecutors told a judge Monday that Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite charged with helping the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein feed his craving for underage girls, tried to flee apprehension from FBI agents right before they arrested her this month.

Prosecutors revealed Maxwell’s effort in a court filing as they argued that she is likely to flee the United States if granted bail of $5 million, or even more.

Prosecutors cited the millions of dollars that Maxwell has held in “dozens” of overseas bank accounts, her citizenship in France, and the fact that she tried to hide from FBI agents who arrested her in a $1 million New Hampshire hideaway purchased under under the name of a legal entity to conceal the actual owner.

“There will be no trial for the victims if the defendant is afforded the opportunity to flee the jurisdiction, and there is every reason to think that is exactly what she will do if she is released,” prosecutors wrote in a filing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan in advance of Maxwell’s detention hearing there Tuesday.

They called Maxwell “an extreme risk of flight.”

Prosecutors said they expect “one or more victims” will testify at the hearing.

Prosecutors said that Maxwell holds French citizenship, and if released on bail could flee to France and avoid extradition on the charges she faces in New York. France does not extradite its own citizens, the prosecutors noted.

Maxwell, 58, has asked a judge to release her on a $5 million personal recognizance bond, to be secured by a half-dozen signatories and more than $3 million in property.

She has been held without bail since her arrest, and denies the charges, which are based on claims that she helped Epstein recruit and groom girls as young as 14 to satisfy his sexual obsessions in the mid-1990s, and that she participated in the alleged abuse at times herself. She is also charged with perjuring herself by allegedly denying that conduct under oath during depositions in civil litigation.

Maxwell’s lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Epstein, a former friend of Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, died from what authorities have ruled a suicide by hanging in a Manhattan federal jail, weeks after being arrested on child sex trafficking charges related to his alleged abuse of dozens of underage girls from 2002 through 2005.

The wealthy investor Epstein, who once dated Maxwell and had paid her to manage his real estate holdings for years, had been denied bail.

At the time of his death, prosecutors said they were continuing to investigate possible co-conspirators of Epstein who allegedly help him procure a steady stream of girls and young women to satisfy his sexual compulsions.

Although Maxwell was not identified by name at the time, her arrest on July 2 confirmed the widespread suspicion that she was among the people being investigated by authorities. 

In their filing Monday in her case, prosecutors wrote, “When FBI agents arrived at the defendant’s remote property in New Hampshire on the morning of July 2, 2020, they discovered the property was barred by a locked gate.”

“After breaching the gate, the agents observed an individual who was later determined to be a private security guard. As the agents approached the front door to the main house, they announced themselves as FBI agents and directed the defendant [Maxwell] to open the door,” the filing said.

“Through a window, the agents saw the defendant ignore the direction to open the door and, instead, try to flee to another room in the house, quickly shutting a door behind her.”

The filing added, “Agents were ultimately forced to breach the door in order to enter the house to arrest the defendant, who was found in an interior room in the house.”

When FBI agents searched the house, “they also noticed a cell phone wrapped in tin foil on top of a desk, a seemingly misguided effort to evade detection, not by the press or public, which of course would have no ability to trace her phone or intercept her communications, but by law enforcement.”

After her arrest, FBI agents spoke with a security guard at the residence, who told them that one of  Maxwell’s brothers “had hired a security company staffed with former members of the British military to guard the defendant at the New Hampshire property.”

Prosecutors also wrote in their filing, “The charges against Ghislaine Maxwell arise from her essential role in sexual exploitation that caused deep and lasting harm to vulnerable victims. At the heart of this case are brave women who are victims of serious crimes that demand justice.”

And they said that Maxwell’s bail request “wholly fails to appreciate the driving force behind this case: the defendant’s victims were sexually abused as minors as a direct result of Ghislaine Maxwell’s actions, and they have carried the trauma from these events for their entire adult lives.”

“They deserve to see her brought to justice at a trial,” prosecutors wrote.

“The Government is deeply concerned that if the defendant is bailed, the victims will be denied justice in this case,” prosecutors wrote. “That outcome is unacceptable to both the victims and the Government.”

Maxwell from 2016 to the present has been associated with more than a dozen bank accounts whose maximum total balances have topped $20 million, according to the court filing.

The filing said that her access to “considerable wealth” abroad, her “completely opaque” finances, her citizenship in France and her apparent skill “at living in hiding … are glaring red flags, even before the Court considers the gravity of the charges in this case and the serious penalties the defendant faces if convicted at trial.”

Prosecutors also in their filing rejected Maxwell’s claim that the charges against her are barred by a nonprosecution agreement that Epstein signed in 2007 with federal prosecutors in South Florida. 

The filing said that Maxwell “was not a party to that agreement nor named in it as a third-party beneficiary.” Prosecutors also said that the deal is not binding on their office, in the Southern District of New York.

When he signed the nonprosecution deal with federal authorities, Epstein agreed to plead guilty to Florida state criminal charges in 2008, which included paying for sex from an underage girl. He ended up serving 13 months in jail in that case, but spent much of his time free on work release.

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