Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's alleged recruiter, pleads not guilty

Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite and longtime companion of the infamous sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, pleaded not guilty to federal sex trafficking charges in a video appearance before a federal judge in New York on Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan deemed her a flight risk and ordered her held without bail pending trial, which she set for July 12, 2021.

In court filings last week, prosecutors had argued that Maxwell poses an "extreme" flight risk, citing her "three passports, large sums of money, extensive international connections." Attorneys for Maxwell countered that she "has not left the country even once since Epstein's arrest a year ago" and "her conduct has been entirely consistent with someone who fully intends to remain in this country and fight any allegations brought against her." On Tuesday, Maxwell's attorney, Mark Cohen, also said "the notion of preparing a defense" with her in jail during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic "is not realistic."

The court also heard from two of Epstein's alleged victims. Annie Farmer, one of several women who have alleged that Maxwell not only recruited them but also participated in their sexual abuse, identified herself by name and spoke via remote connection, stressing that "the danger" Maxwell poses "must be taken seriously." Prosecutor Alison Moe also read a statement from an anonymous alleged victim of Epstein's abuse, who said that "without Ghislaine, Jeffrey could not have done what he did" and expressed "great fear that she will flee" if she were to be released.

Judge Nathan ultimately sided with the government's position that there is no condition or combination of conditions that could ensure her presence at court.

"The risks," she said, "are simply too great."

Federal prosecutors also said during the court proceedings that Maxwell is currently married.

A source familiar with the case told ABC News that the disclosure was made deliberately as part of the government's argument to the judge that Maxwell has not been particularly forthcoming about her circumstances and finances.

"In addition to failing to describe in any way the assets of the proposed co-signer of a bond, the defendant also makes no mention whatsoever about the financial circumstances or assets of her spouse, whose identity she declined to provide to pretrial services," Moe told the court during bail arguments. "There's no information about who will be co-signing this bond or their assets, and no details whatsoever."

ABC News reached out to Maxwell's attorneys for comment regarding the prosecutor's comments about a spouse, but did not receive a reply.

Maxwell, 58, is the Oxford-educated daughter of Robert Maxwell, the larger than life publishing baron whose rags-to-riches story captivated England. She lived an extravagant life among the British elite until her father's business empire collapsed in the wake of his death. She fled to New York looking for a fresh start and was soon seen in the company of the mysterious multimillionaire Epstein.

In a letter to a Florida state prosecutor related to Epstein's 2008 guilty plea, Epstein's attorneys describe his relationship with Maxwell as one of two "long-term intimate relationships" Epstein had in adulthood. Maxwell has asserted in court filings that she entered Epstein's employ in 1999, where she remained, despite the eventual end of their romantic relationship, until at least 2006.

Maxwell is now facing a reckoning for her alleged role in facilitating Epstein's sexual abuse of young women. She was arrested by federal authorities in New Hampshire earlier this month and is facing a six-count federal indictment alleging that she conspired with Epstein in a multi-state sex trafficking scheme involving three unnamed minor victims between 1994 and 1997. Prosecutors contend Maxwell not only "befriended" and later "enticed and groomed multiple minor girls to engage in sex acts with Epstein, through a variety of means and methods," but was also, at times, "present for and involved" in the abuse herself.

Maxwell has repeatedly denied those allegations, both in court filings and in a sworn deposition, claiming through her attorneys to have "had no involvement in or knowledge of Epstein's alleged misconduct." But several of Epstein's alleged victims tell an entirely different story, one that often places Maxwell in a role that was central to their abuse. Maxwell has been named as a defendant in five lawsuits from alleged Epstein victims, and in at least three others, alleged victims identify her as one of Epstein's primary "recruiters."

According to Brad Edwards, an attorney who represents several of Epstein's alleged victims, Maxwell's role in Epstein's story is clear.

"Ghislaine Maxwell created Jeffrey Epstein," Edwards told ABC News last week. "She helped to create the monster that we later understood him to be."
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