Former British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell will remain behind bars as she fights U.S. sex trafficking charges after a federal judge turned down her renewed request to be released on bail.
U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan rejected Maxwell’s proposal that she be freed on a $28.5 million bond, ruling that it doesn’t provide sufficient security that the former girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein will show up for trial. Epstein died in a New York jail last year while awaiting trial on charges of trafficking in girls for sex, a scheme in which prosecutors say Maxwell played a central role.
“The court again concludes that no conditions of release can reasonably assure the defendant’s appearance at future proceedings,” Nathan said in a two-page order. “None of the new information that the defendant presented in support of her applications has a material bearing on the court’s determination that she poses a flight risk.”
The ruling increases the government’s leverage in any potential plea negotiations as the case moves closer to a trial net year. Maxwell, who has complained about conditions inside her high-security jail in Brooklyn, may now have added incentive to reach a deal.
Maxwell’s lawyers didn’t immediately return emails seeking comment on the ruling.
Maxwell holds citizenship in the U.K. and France in addition to the U.S. She offered to submit to extradition if she were to flee and argued that she’s exposed to an unacceptable risk of coronavirus infection in jail.
In July, Nathan denied Maxwell’s first bail proposal, that she be released before trial on $5 million bond, ruling that the risk of flight was too great. Maxwell had complained of being subjected to “extraordinarily harsh” jail conditions for fear she would take her own life. Epstein’s death was ruled a suicide.
Maxwell’s lawyers argued that she was being held under more restrictive conditions than other inmates and had lost more than 15 pounds and suffered from hair loss. They said the government required their client to “provide an absolute guarantee against all risks,” more than is required by law.
On Dec. 8, Maxwell filed a renewed request for bail, backed by $22.5 million in assets co-signed by her husband, who has not been identified in public court filings. She hoped that would satisfy Nathan’s concerns and allow for her release before trial. Maxwell says the case against her is weak, with three unidentified accusers expected to testify about events that are more than 25 years old.
The case is U.S. v. Maxwell, 20-cr-00330, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).