Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers try to block sexually-charged deposition from being made public

The second deposition from Jeffrey Epstein’s former lover was due to be released in the next two weeks

Harriet Alexander
New York
Friday 13 November 2020 23:10 GMT
Ghislaine Maxwell is currently in jail in Brooklyn awaiting her trial in July
Ghislaine Maxwell is currently in jail in Brooklyn awaiting her trial in July (via REUTERS)

Ghislaine Maxwell's lawyers are attempting to block the release of a second sexually-charged deposition from a settled civil case, which her legal team argues risks prejudicing a jury at her forthcoming trial.

On Thursday night her legal team filed an objection to the publication of a July 2016 deposition in the case of Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who alleges that she was sexually trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein and Ms Maxwell for years, and forced to have sex with Prince Andrew.

He has always strenuously denied her accusations and has never been charged with any crime.

Ms Roberts Giuffre's libel and slander case against Ms Maxwell and Epstein was settled in May 2017.

But in July a New York City judge, Loretta Preska, ordered that the depositions from that case be released, given the overwhelming public interest in the case.

Epstein died in jail by suicide aged 66, in August 2019, while awaiting trial.

Ms Maxwell was arrested on 2 July in New Hampshire, and the 58-year-old is currently in a Brooklyn jail, due to go on trial in July 2021.

The criminal charges against the well-connected British socialite involve alleged recruiting and grooming of underage girls for Epstein from 1994 to 1997. She is alleged to have participated in the abuse of one of the girls, and has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

In October Judge Preska ordered the release of a 465-page April 2016 transcript from Ms Roberts Giuffre's case, and was due by the end of November to release the second deposition, from July 2016.

Ms Menninger said the July 2016 deposition contained “hundreds of pages worth of questions concerning her ‘own sexual activity’ and 'her knowledge of the sexual activities of others."

The second deposition is expected to be more explosive than the first: in the first she was obstructive and refused to answer questions about her sexual behaviour and that of Epstein, and so a judge ordered she sit for a second deposition.

In the first she was questioned about her connections to Bill Clinton, and the existence of a “laundry basket of sex toys” kept at the late financier’s mansion in Palm Beach, Florida.

"There can be no doubt that matters concerning Ms Maxwell’s case have been excessively and extensively reported," wrote Laura A Menninger in her objection to the release of the second deposition, obtained by the Miami Herald.

"The press, the government, and plaintiff have made every effort to try Ms Maxwell as a proxy for the now deceased Mr Epstein.

"The prejudice caused by the flood of coverage that comes with every new unsealing event in this case cannot be overstated."

Those same arguments were made unsuccessfully to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York when Ms Maxwell challenged Ms Preska’s decision to unseal the depositions.

Appellate judges found that Ms Preska was correct in ruling that there was a presumption of public access to court documents, and so gave the publication of the documents the green light.

Ms Maxwell has also sued Epstein’s estate, which is being settled in the US Virgin Islands, and claimed Epstein promised to pay her legal bills and did so up until the day he died in August 2019.

The estate holds that no such deal was ever made.

Ms Menninger’s filing on Thursday also repeated earlier arguments that the information should be kept under seal because it could be relevant to Ms Maxwell’s criminal trial.

“The Sealed Items contain information relevant to the Criminal Action that may or may not later be determined inadmissible in that trial” she said.

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