Ghislaine Maxwell: Judge rules to unseal records from 2015 civil suit that could expose accused sex trafficker

Public interest ‘far outweighs’ objections from Jeffrey Epstein’s former associate charged, judge rules

Alex Woodward
New York
Thursday 23 July 2020 13:02
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Ghislaine Maxwell pleads not guilty to recruiting girls for Jeffrey Epstein

A judge has decided to unseal records from a 2015 civil lawsuit against Ghislaine Maxwell, a socialite and associate of Jeffrey Epstein who has been accused of grooming and luring young girls into a sex trafficking ring with the late financier.

US District Judge Loretta Preska has ordered that potentially dozens of documents, testimony and other evidence could be unsealed, despite Maxwell’s objections.

Maxwell’s attorneys have argued that the release of documents could “inappropriately influence potential witnesses or alleged victims” and expose other people linked to her and Epstein, who had reportedly killed himself while imprisoned awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges in 2019. His death has been ruled a suicide.

Judge Preska ruled that public interest in the release of those records “far outweighed” Maxwell’s claims.

While investigating allegations against Epstein, The Miami Herald had pursued the release of documents tied to a civil defamation lawsuit filed by Virginia Roberts Giuffre against Maxwell in 2015. Those records could contain the names of high-profile figures with connections to Epstein and Maxwell, including Donald Trump, Prince Andrew and former president Bill Clinton, among others.

Among the documents are transcripts from Maxwell’s depositions from the case which had previously been kept confidential.

Maxwell’s attorneys have one week in which to file an appeal on Judge Preska’s decision.

She was arrested earlier this month and accused of a scheme in which he allegedly “assisted, facilitated and contributed” to Epstein’s “abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse the victims known to Maxwell and Epstein to be under the age of 18.”

It added some of the victims were as young as 14, with the abuse starting from “at least in or about” 1994 to about 1997.

She has pleaded not guilty to the federal charges against her and remains in a New York federal detention centre after a judge denied her bail, citing concerns that Maxwell could be a flight risk. A tentative trial date has been set for 2021.

On Thursday, the judge presiding over her criminal case ruled against imposing a “gag order” that would prevent prosecutors and other from discussing the case.

Some of the records in the civil case were unsealed in August, one day after Epstein’s death. 

Excerpts from a 2016 deposition reveal that Maxwell sought “adult professional massage therapists” for Epstein, who had homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach. Giuffre was 17 when she allegedly gave Epstein massages in Florida, according to the deposition.

Unsealed documents will redact the names of “Jane Does” who have accused Epstein of abusing them, and medical records will remain sealed, Judge Preska said.

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