A lawyer for Ghislaine Maxwell on Tuesday urged a federal appeals court on Tuesday to overturn a ruling that the longtime associate of late financier Jeffrey Epstein says jeopardizes her ability to defend against criminal charges she enabled Epstein’s sexual abuse of girls.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is reviewing a judge’s order to unseal sworn testimony related to Epstein, including a April 2016 deposition from Maxwell and a deposition by an Epstein accuser.
Maxwell, 58, has said negative publicity from the disclosure of “intimate, sensitive, and personal” information from her deposition would violate her right against self-incrimination, and imperil a fair trial because jurors might hold it against her.
The request to keep the 418-page deposition under wraps is opposed by Virginia Giuffre, who has said Epstein kept her as a “sex slave” with Maxwell’s help, and that Maxwell could have invoked her right to remain silent while being deposed.
Giuffre is one of Epstein’s most visible public accusers, and believes the public has a right to see Maxwell’s deposition, which came from Giuffre’s civil defamation lawsuit against the British socialite.
That case settled in 2017, and U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska ordered the deposition unsealed in July.
“The evidence is clear, as a matter of law, that Ms. Maxwell reasonably relied on the protective order [ensuring the deposition’s confidentiality], and Judge Preska erred in ordering its release,” Maxwell’s lawyer Adam Mueller told the appeals court.
Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to charges she helped Epstein recruit and groom underage girls as young as 14 years old to engage in illegal sexual acts in the mid-1990s, and not guilty to perjury for having denied involvement under oath.
She was arrested on July 2 in New Hampshire, where prosecutors said she had been hiding out.
Maxwell has been locked up in a Brooklyn jail after U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan, who oversees the criminal case, called her an unacceptable flight risk. A trial is scheduled for July 2021.
Epstein, a registered sex offender, killed himself at age 66 in August 2019 at a Manhattan jail while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
Tuesday’s hearing will also address a second Maxwell appeal, from Nathan’s refusal to modify a protective order and let her access confidential materials produced by the government.
Maxwell’s lawyers hope to use those materials to convince Preska not to unseal the deposition, saying the judge deserved to know “just how prosecutors obtained the deposition material and who turned it over to them.”
Prosecutors countered that Maxwell has shown no need for the materials, and that her appeal was a “thinly veiled attempt” to have the appeals court declare they gathered evidence illegally.