British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, accused of helping procure underage girls for disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse, returns to court Monday to face charges that could bring up to 80 years in prison.
Maxwell (59) has been held in isolation at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center for 16 months while she awaits trial. Last week she was denied bail for the fourth time, despite claims from her lawyers that she has been subjected to physical and emotional abuse by jail guards, unsanitary living conditions and inedible meals.
The claims were dismissed by the prosecution as “rhetoric” and “anecdotes more suited for tabloids than shorts.” Where legal arguments can be found, they are cursory and unpersuasive.”
Maxwell further argued her points in a Saturday interview with The Daily Mail.
She told British tabloid that she had been abused and assaulted for nearly a year. They feed me rotten food. “One apple contained maggots.”
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She described a “friendly rat” that routinely sat next to her on an open sewer as she went to the toilet.
“I told the guards, but nothing was done until the rat popped out and charged a guard, who screamed in terror,” Maxwell said. “Finally, the sewer drain was covered.”
Kristie Breshears, a spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, told USA TODAY that for privacy, safety and security reasons she could not discuss conditions of confinement for a particular inmate. She wrote, however, in an email, that she takes allegations of misconduct by staff seriously.
Breshears said that any incidents of possible criminal activity or misconduct within BOP facilities are investigated thoroughly for criminal prosecution or administrative discipline.
Maxwell stated to the Daily Mail, that she was worried about the “overwhelmingly negative coverage” which would poison her jury pool and lead to a guilty verdict, even though she claims she is innocent.
“I look forward to having my day in court to prove I played no part in Epstein’s crimes,” she said. “I am innocent.”
Epstein, 66, was indicted in July 2019, accused of sexually exploiting and abusing dozens of underage girls at his mansions in Manhattan, Palm Beach, Florida, and elsewhere from the 1990s to 2005. The charges, including sex trafficking and conspiracy, could have landed Epstein in prison for decades. A month later, he committed suicide from his Manhattan jail cell.
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Maxwell was taken into custody in July 2020 for transporting minors in criminal sexual activity. Also, Maxwell faces conspiracy to lure minors to illegal sex acts. Maxwell denies all the allegations and has been kept in custody ever since.
“Maxwell was among Epstein’s closest associates and helped him exploit girls who were as young as 14 years old,” said Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, at the time.
Her case is now in serious progress. Jury selection will begin in earnest in Manhattan Federal Courtroom this week. The opening statements have been tentatively scheduled for November 29. Judge Alison Nathan rejected Maxwell’s $28.5million bail package repeatedly, stating that Maxwell was an imminent flight risk.
British royalty has become involved in the Epstein/Maxwell story. Police announced last month, however, that they will not take action against Prince Andrew after a review prompted by an Epstein accuser who claims the prince sexually assaulted her.
Virginia Giuffre claims she was trafficked by Epstein to have sex with Andrew in London in 2001, when she was 17 and a minor under U.S. law. She sued the prince but he has dismissed the allegations.
Britain’s headline story has been the Maxwell family for years. Maxwell’s father, Czech-born British media baron Robert Maxwell, fell to his death from a yacht in November 1991. Weeks later it came to light that he had raided his company pension funds to prop up his sagging financial empire.
Two of Ghislaine Maxwell’s brothers, Ian and Kevin, were later acquitted of fraud charges for their alleged roles in their father’s companies.
Contributions: The Associated Press