Ghislaine Maxwell, the longtime Jeffrey Epstein confidant accused of helping him sexually abuse underaged girls, had not been hiding from prosecutors since the pedophile billionaire’s jailhouse suicide in August—but from an “unrelenting and intrusive media,” her lawyers claimed in a Friday memo.
“She did not flee, but rather left the public eye, for the entirely understandable purpose of protecting herself and those close to her from the crush of media and online attention and its very real harms—those close to her have suffered the loss of jobs, work opportunities, and reputational damage simply for knowing her,” her lawyers wrote in a Friday memo responding to a prosecutorial request that she remain in custody until her trial.
Maxwell, 58, is being held in a New York federal detention facility after being charged with allegedly enticing minors, some as young as 14, to engage in illegal sex acts with Epstein in the mid-'90s. She was arrested at an ultra-secluded New Hampshire mansion on July 2.
Prosecutors argued she shouldn’t be released on bond because she was hiding from law enforcement for over a year, making “intentional efforts to avoid detection” like moving homes twice, registering a new phone number under a different name, and paying for her New Hampshire mansion with cash.
In the Friday memo, however, Maxwell’s lawyers claim the British socialite has been the media’s scapegoat for Epstein’s crimes after he was arrested—and that she too is a victim of Epstein, who she had not been in contact with for more than a decade.
“Ever since Epstein’s arrest, Ms. Maxwell has been at the center of a crushing onslaught of press articles, television specials, and social media posts painting her in the most damning light possible and prejudging her guilt,” the memo states.
Stressing that “Ghislaine Maxwell is not Jeffrey Epstein,” her lawyers argued she should be released from federal prison on a $5 million personal recognizance bond with travel restrictions, home confinement, and GPS monitoring.
The memo also states that Maxwell had “regular contact" with federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York since the day Epstein was arrested until her arrest on July 2.
Federal prosecutors allege in the six-count indictment against Maxwell that she took part “in the sexual exploitation and abuse of multiple minor girls by Jeffrey Epstein.” From 1994 to at least 1997, “Maxwell assisted, facilitated, and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse victims known to Maxwell and Epstein to be under the age of 18.” Some of the alleged victims were as young as 14.
In the Friday memo, her lawyers state Maxwell “vigorously denies the charges, intends to fight them, and is entitled to the presumption of innocence,” and should be granted bail because of the COVID-19 threat in jail.
After Epstein’s jailhouse suicide, the hunt was on for the dead financier’s longtime consort, who he once described as his “best friend” and who was complicit in the sexual trafficking of underage girls, according to his victims.
The 58-year-old British heiress seemingly vanished after the feds busted Epstein, prompting publications to ask: Where in the world is Ghislaine Maxwell? At one point last year, photos surfaced of Maxwell at an In-N-Out Burger in Los Angeles—but they were later proven to be staged by an attorney friend.
Maxwell’s lawyers claimed in the Friday memo that she simply dropped out of the public eye and “did not take steps to hide from law enforcement or evade prosecution”—and that she hid at the New Hampshire pad to escape the intrusive media coverage.
“Since Epstein’s arrest, she has been mentioned in literally thousands of media publications, news reports, and other online content. The media attention also spawned a carnival-like atmosphere of speculation about her whereabouts,” the Friday memo states, adding that Maxwell “has seen helicopters flying over her home and reporters hiding in the bushes.”
In a detention memo filed last week, however, prosecutors described Maxwell as an “extreme” flight risk who had “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.”
Her lawyers also offered a preview into their legal strategy, stating that the charges against Maxwell were based on the 2007 non-prosecution agreement Epstein signed with federal prosecutors. The sweetheart-deal, they said, appeared to immunize “any potential co-conspirators of Epstein.”
“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,” the memo states.