Ghislaine Maxwell pleads not guilty in Jeffrey Epstein sex abuse case

A federal judge has denied bail to Ghislaine Maxwell, who pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges brought earlier this month that allege she conspired with billionaire Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse underage girls. Maxwell’s trial is scheduled to begin July 12, 2021.

The latest: In handing down her ruling, Judge Alison Nathan said “the risks are simply too great” and ordered Maxwell to be jailed pending trial. Prosecutors from the Southern District of New York called Maxwell an “extreme flight risk” whose “significant and unexplained wealth” and lack of ties to the U.S. give her few reasons not to attempt to flee the country.

  • Prosecutors told the judge that the British socialite has more than $10 million in assets, including at least $4 million in a Swiss bank account.
  • Maxwell’s counsel expressed concern that time in prison could put the 58-year-old at risk of contracting the coronavirus and proposed she serve her pretrial detention in a luxury Manhattan hotel, according to the Miami Herald’s Julie Brown, whose reporting in 2018 led to charges against Epstein.

The big picture: Maxwell has been held without bail since she was arrested on July 2 in an FBI raid of her remote New Hampshire estate, where she had been hiding out.

  • Prosecutors say that Maxwell ignored a request to open her door and tried to flee to another room of the house, forcing the FBI agents to bust in.
  • The virtual hearing on Tuesday took place exactly one year since a federal judge denied Epstein bail after he was charged with sex crimes. Epstein was found hanged in his cell in an apparent suicide shortly after.

What to watch: Maxwell is facing six charges that could amount to up to 35 years in prison. She is likely to be pitted against many of the same victims and witnesses Epstein would have faced, had he ever made it to trial.

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