Ghislaine Maxwell, the longtime Jeffrey Epstein confidant accused of helping him sexually abuse underage girls, should be granted bail because of the COVID-19 threat in jail, her lawyers said Friday.
Maxwell, 58, has been locked up at a federal detention facility in New York following her arrest last week on charges connected to Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking network.
In new court papers, her lawyers cited the risks of the coronavirus as one reason she should be released from jail to home confinement. They proposed that she be freed on a $5 million bond secured by six co-signers and property in the U.K. worth $3.75 million.
“The circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic will greatly increase her personal risk and prevent her from meaningfully participating in her defense,” wrote her lawyers, Mark Cohen and Jeffrey Pagliuca.
The request comes days after New York federal prosecutors asked a judge to keep her in federal custody until her trial, describing her as an “extreme” flight risk.
“Maxwell has three passports, large sums of money, extensive international connections, and absolutely no reason to stay in the United States and face the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence,” the prosecutors wrote in court papers.
Maxwell was arrested last week at a secluded New Hampshire estate purchased for $1 million by a limited liability corporation that shielded the buyer’s identity.
She was charged in a six-count indictment alleging that she enticed minors, some as young as 14, to engage in illegal sex acts with Epstein in the mid-1990s.
Prosecutors say Maxwell played a key role in Epstein’s abuse of underage girls, helping to groom the victims and encouraging them to accept his offers of financial assistance. She also participated in some of the abuse herself, the indictment says.
Maxwell is locked up at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, just across the river from the federal prison in Manhattan where Epstein died by suicide last August while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
Prosecutors have said Maxwell was in hiding for a year and made “intentional efforts to avoid detection,” including moving twice and switching her phone number and email address.
Her lawyers argued in the new court papers that she did so to protect herself and her family members from “unrelenting and intrusive media coverage.”
Maxwell’s attorneys also said they plan to fight the charges based on the government’s 2007 nonprosecution agreement with Epstein, which covers “any potential co-conspirators of Epstein.”
“Ghislaine Maxwell is not Jeffrey Epstein,” her attorneys wrote.
“She was not named in the government’s indictment of Epstein in 2019, despite the fact that the government has been investigating this case for years. Instead, the current indictment is based on allegations of conduct that allegedly occurred roughly twenty-five years ago. Ms. Maxwell vigorously denies the charges, intends to fight them, and is entitled to the presumption of innocence.”