A U.S. judge on Friday denied Ghislaine Maxwell’s offer to dismiss the original indictment accusing the British celebrity of helping financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse girls.
US District Judge Alison Nathan dismissed Maxwell’s arguments that she couldn’t get a fair trial over an eardrum of negative media advertising, or that she was scapegoated for Epstein’s death.
“The court will not dismiss Maxwell’s mere allegation that numerous witnesses are involved in an affidavit against her,” wrote Nathan in a 34-page decision. “And the court will take all appropriate steps to ensure that the pre-trial advertising in this case does not prejudice Maxwell’s right to a fair and impartial jury.”
Even so, Nathan agreed to Maxwell’s motion to separate two perjury charges, which would be tried separately.
Maxwell’s attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for US attorney Audrey Strauss in Manhattan declined to comment.
Nathan’s decision concerns the first six of the eight criminal charges Maxwell faces that she has pleaded not guilty of.
They concern allegations that 59-year-old Maxwell Epstein helped recruit and care for three girls for sexual abuse from 1994 to 1997 and lied under oath that she played a role in a separate civil lawsuit in 2016.
She is due to be charged on April 23 with sex trafficking, which she cared for and paid a fourth girl to offer Epstein nude massages and had sex with Epstein from 2001-2004, and recruited others to offer erotic massages.
Epstein killed himself in a Manhattan prison in August 2019 after being arrested for sex trafficking.
Maxwell has been jailed in Brooklyn since her arrest last July and faces up to 80 years in prison if convicted.
She is targeting a delay of 90 days or more in her scheduled July 12th trial. Prosecutors added that the addition of the sex trafficking charge on March 29 expanded the case significantly and would fuel the judiciary’s proposed “wrong decision”.
NOT TOO LATE
Nathan’s decision related to 12 motions by Maxwell earlier this year to dismiss or narrow the criminal case.
These included arguments that Epstein’s 2007 non-prosecution agreement affected Maxwell and that her Manhattan-based prosecutors were late in getting the charges. Continue reading
Nathan agreed with prosecutors that Epstein’s agreement with her Miami counterparts did not bind them or cover the original charge, and that the charges under a 2003 underage sexual abuse law were timely.
The judge also said Maxwell’s claim that the suburban White Plains, New York grand jury indicted last June was not diverse because of too few blacks and Hispanics in attendance because of a Manhattan grand jury returned the March 29 indictment.
At the time of the original indictment, there were no major juries in Manhattan because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Nathan said it was necessary to remove the perjury charge to avoid “admitting evidence of other acts that may be inappropriately disadvantageous” and forcing Maxwell’s lawyers to disqualify themselves for being in the past Civil litigation were involved.
In return for immunity under his non-prosecution agreement, Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 and served only 13 months in prison. The scheme is now generally viewed as too lenient.
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