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Ghislaine Maxwell pleads not guilty in Jeffrey Epstein-related sex abuse case, will remain behind bars

Ghislaine Maxwell denied bail
Ghislaine Maxwell denied bail after pleading not guilty 01:32

Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein's former girlfriend and a wealthy British socialite, was denied bail on Tuesday and will remain behind bars until trial. Maxwell pleaded not guilty to charges she recruited girls and women for the financier to sexually abuse more than two decades ago. 

Maxwell, 58, has been held without bail since her July 2 arrest at her million-dollar New Hampshire estate, where prosecutors say she refused to open the door for FBI agents, who busted in to find that she had retreated to an interior room and had a cellphone wrapped in tin foil, apparently an effort to thwart surveillance.

She has been charged with recruiting at least three girls, one as young as 14, for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 1997. Two Epstein accusers implored the judge to keep Maxwell detained after she pleaded not guilty to the charges during a video court hearing in Manhattan.

Prosecutors said in court that Maxwell was a flight risk because of her "undisclosed wealth" and "extensive international ties" that could put her out of the reach of extradition.

"She has the ability to live off the grid indefinitely," prosecutor Alison Moe said, citing her access to millions of dollars and the scant information about her finances provided by her lawyers.

Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown tweeted Tuesday that the judge agreed, and found Maxwell to be a flight risk.

Brown's 2018 story, Perversion of Justice, detailing Epstein's so-called sweetheart deal from Alexander Acosta, then Miami's top federal prosecutor and later Labor Secretary under President Trump, helped bring the case back to national attention. Acosta resigned less than a year after the story was published. 

An indictment filed earlier this month alleged that Maxwell helped groom Epstein's victims to endure sexual abuse and was sometimes there when Epstein abused them. According to the indictment, beginning in "at least 1994" Maxwell "enticed and groomed multiple minor girls to engage in sex acts with Jeffrey Epstein, through a variety of means and methods."

It also alleged that she lied during a 2016 deposition in a civil case stemming from Epstein's abuse of girls and women. In announcing the charges, Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said, "Maxwell lied because the truth as alleged was almost unspeakable."

"Maxwell's presence during minor victims' interactions with Epstein, including interactions where the minor victim was undressed or that involved sex acts with Epstein, helped put the victims at ease because an adult woman was present," reads the indictment. 

Maxwell could face 35 years in prison if convicted on six criminal counts, including four for allegedly transporting minors for sexual assaults. She is being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. A trial date was set for July 12, 2021.

Epstein killed himself in August 2019, several weeks after he was confronted by two accusers at a bail hearing who insisted that he should remain in jail while awaiting sex trafficking charges that alleged he abused girls at his Manhattan and Florida mansions in the early 2000s.

Cassandra Gauthier contributed to this report.

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