Epstein’s ex-girlfriend tries late bid to seal testimony
July 29, 2020
NEW YORK (AP) — The woman charged with recruiting three girls for Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse made a last-minute bid Wednesday to stop the public release of her 2016 testimony in a civil case.
Ty Gee, a lawyer for Ghislaine Maxwell, told a Manhattan judge that the depositions by his client should be kept sealed, in part because they are evidence in the criminal case brought against her on July 2.
U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska denied what she described as an “eleventh-hour” request after last week ordering the public release of the documents by Thursday.
But she also delayed the release of the depositions through Friday to give Gee time to appeal. He immediately did with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan.
Maxwell, 58, has pleaded not guilty to charges that she procured the girls, including one as young as 14, for Epstein to abuse in London and the United States in the 1990s. She remains at a federal jail in Brooklyn after bail was denied because she is a risk to flee.
The charges against Maxwell came nearly a year after Epstein killed himself in a Manhattan lockup where he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges. If convicted, she could face up to 35 years in prison.
Gee said Maxwell only revealed “intimate information about her personal life” in a case brought by one of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Giuffre, because a confidentiality agreement between parties in the case “specifically excluded an exception for law enforcement.”
“Had the language not been made an order of the Court, Ms. Maxwell would have proceeded in a different fashion,” Gee wrote.
He also told the judge that lawyers in the case may have used the need for depositions to set a “perjury trap” for his client.
The lawyer said the public release of the April and July 2016 depositions should be blocked because they form the basis of criminal perjury charges in the indictment brought against Maxwell. But Preska said he could have made that argument for the last month.
The perjury charges pertain to Maxwell’s answers to questions posed by lawyers in the civil case, including whether Epstein had a scheme to recruit underage girls for sexual massages.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Maxwell responded, Gee noted.
Excerpts from seven hours of depositions of Maxwell were made public last year along with over 2,000 pages of documents from the since-settled lawsuit.
“The unsealing of Ms. Maxwell’s deposition transcript would result in substantial negative media publicity and speculation in an internet world,” Gee wrote. “The public’s right of access to Ms. Maxwell’s deposition transcript is substantially outweighed by the compelling interest in ensuring her right to a fair trial.”
Lawyers for Giuffre and the Miami Herald, which intervened to secure the public release of documents, were sent messages seeking comment.
Prosecutors: ‘Alarming’ that Maxwell may publicize victims
July 28, 2020
NEW YORK (AP) — Some witnesses in the criminal case against Jeffrey Epstein’s former girlfriend may face harassment and intimidation and could be reluctant to cooperate with the government if defense attorneys are allowed to discuss them publicly, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Prosecutors asked a Manhattan federal court judge to block lawyers for British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell from publicly identifying women who have already spoken about the financier or Maxwell on a public forum.
“The victims of Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein have suffered enough,” prosecutors said, urging privacy for accusers except for anyone who acknowledges publicly they are part of the criminal case against Maxwell.
Defense lawyers said Monday that banning them from publicly identifying alleged victims or potential witnesses in the case will hinder their ability to investigate, prepare witnesses for trial and advocate on Maxwell’s behalf.
“Permitting defense counsel to publicly identify witnesses who have not identified themselves on the record in this case risks subjecting witnesses to harassment and intimidation, with no conceivable benefit to the defense other than perhaps discouraging witnesses from cooperating with the Government,” prosecutors wrote in court papers.
They said defense lawyers said they believed they could reference victims by name publicly prior to trial because the individuals had gotten a “benefit” by publicly identifying themselves.
“Beyond the offensive notion that victims of sexual abuse experience a ‘benefit’ by making the incredibly difficult decision to share their experience publicly, the suggestion that victims who receive this supposed ‘benefit’ should receive fewer protections than the law ordinarily offers to victims in criminal cases is alarming,” prosecutors wrote.
The dispute arose as lawyers on both sides tried to agree on the rules of secrecy about evidence prior to a July 12 trial, when Maxwell will face charges that she recruited three teenage girls for Epstein to abuse in London and the United States in the 1990s.
Maxwell, 58, incarcerated since her July 2 arrest at her New Hampshire estate, has pleaded not guilty to charges alleging she sometimes joined in the abuse of the girls, which included one who was 14.
Epstein, 66, was facing sex trafficking charges in Manhattan when he killed himself last August while awaiting trial.
“The defense believes it should not be restricted from publicly disclosing or disseminating the identity of any alleged victims or potential witnesses referenced in the discovery materials who have already identified themselves by speaking on the public record,” defense lawyers wrote in their submission.
Prosecutors, though, said “victims should be able to continue to come forward, in the ways and in the venues they themselves choose, without fear of reprisal, shaming, or other consequence arising from having their identities broadcast by defense counsel in this case.”