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Audrey Strauss, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, speaks during a news conference to announce charges against Ghislaine Maxwell for her alleged role in the sexual exploitation and abuse of multiple minor girls by Jeffrey Epstein, Thursday, July 2, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

 

Ghislaine Maxwell, an associate, and confidant of accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein has pled “not guilty” to sex crime charges that were brought against her earlier in July. The federal court has scheduled her trial to begin on July 12, 2021. 

Maxwell’s plea come only a few weeks after her arrest on July 2. She was held without bail since her arrest and prosecutors are urging the judge to deny her bail, arguing that she is an “extreme flight risk” due to her lack of ties to the United States. 

The British socialite has citizenship in three other countries, including France, which does not extradite citizens. She had been hiding out in her New Hampshire estate at the time of her arrest. Assistant US Attorney Alison Moe argued that “there should be no question that the defendant is skilled at living in hiding.” 

The defendant’s counsel objected to the notion that she should be denied bail, arguing that time in prison could expose the 58-year-old to COVID-19. 

Maxwell is facing six charges involving sex crimes and could be facing up to 35 years in prison. These charges include  sex trafficking, perjury and enticement of minors. She will likely be pitted against the same witnesses and victims as Epstein if he had made it to trial. 

The defendant had been using former British military personnel for security at her home in New Hampshire. She would send members of the security detail to make “purchases for the property” rather than going out herself and risking arrest. Maxwell also wrapped her cell phone in aluminum foil to prevent detection. 

Maxwell’s attorneys contend that she was taking these precautions to avoid the media, not law enforcement. The assistant district attorney has indicated that investigators “have been in touch with additional individuals who have expressed a willingness to provide information regarding the defendant,” who have provided the U.S. attorney’s office with more information that “has the potential to make the Government’s case even stronger.”