NEW YORK • Lawyers of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell – a central figure entwined in the scandal involving late financier Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of teenage girls – say US prosecutors are reneging on a promise to provide her with the evidence they collected in her sex trafficking case.
The government’s failure to provide the evidence makes it impossible for Maxwell to prepare her defence, her lawyer Jeffrey Pagliuca said on Friday in a letter to US District Judge Alison Nathan.
Maxwell is accused of recruiting girls as young as 14 to be sexually abused by Epstein, her former boyfriend.
Epstein was charged separately last year with sex trafficking of underage girls but was found dead in his jail cell in August last year. The authorities later ruled his death a suicide.
According to Maxwell’s lawyer, her indictment does not give specific dates for when she committed the alleged crimes, saying only that they occurred between 1994 and 1997.
“Neither the indictment nor the discovery inform Ms Maxwell about critical information necessary to prepare her defence,” Mr Pagliuca wrote.
“Because there are no dates provided, other than a three-year period beginning 26 years in the past, Ms Maxwell cannot properly investigate where she and other witnesses were when the alleged crime supposedly occurred.”
Maxwell has been held in a federal lock-up in Brooklyn since her arrest in July.
She also claims federal prison officials have “exacerbated” her lack of access to evidence by requiring her to sit across the table from her lawyers. That has prevented her from reviewing evidence on a laptop with her attorneys, Mr Pagliuca said.
At recent hearings about conditions at New York’s federal jails during the pandemic, lawyers for the US Bureau of Prisons said they have had to limit inmate access to their counsel as well as impose social distancing curbs on inmates to ensure the health and safety of the detainees, lawyers and staff.
Maxwell said prosecutors have given her some evidence in the case, but she claimed the majority pertains only to Epstein.
Additionally, while prosecutors told Judge Nathan at a hearing in July that the strength of their case posed “a strong incentive” for Maxwell to flee, the government “has failed to produce any of the corroborating documentation that they claimed to have at the initial hearing in this case”, Mr Pagliuca wrote.
For years, Maxwell, 58, has been a central but silent figure in the case involving Epstein’s history of abusing teenage girls.
She had on Thursday, however, offered her fullest response yet to the swirl of claims surrounding Epstein as a four-year-old deposition was released.
In the 418-page deposition, Maxwell rejected accusations of wrongdoing, denied that she had recruited minors to give Epstein sexual massages or that she knew he was abusing girls and young women. She also denied having engaged in sexual acts herself with underage people.
“I can’t think of anything I have done that is illegal,” she said.