Ghislaine Maxwell pleads not guilty to charges in Jeffrey Epstein-connected case, judge denies bail

NEW YORK — British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges that she helped recruit young girls to be sexually abused by the late financier and accused child predator Jeffrey Epstein.

Maxwell has been held without bail since July 2, when FBI agents in New Hampshire arrested her to face allegations that she helped recruit and groom young girls to be sexually abused by Epstein in the 1990s. She appeared Tuesday in a federal courthouse in Manhattan by video conference for a bail hearing and arraignment.

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan scheduled Maxwell’s trial to begin on July 12, 2021, Reuters reported.

Update 3:20 p.m. EDT July 14: U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan on Tuesday sided with prosecutors and denied bail for Ghislaine Maxwell, according to Courthouse News.

Original report: Attorneys for Maxwell argued last week in a memo filed in court that their client “is not Jeffrey Epstein” and deserves bail. They proposed she be released on a $5 million bond with some conditions, including that she be placed under GPS monitoring and that she be confined to a residence in New York.

Prosecutors have argued against releasing Maxwell, saying in court records that she "poses an extreme risk of flight" based on her extensive international ties and the fact that she has citizenship in two foreign countries, among other factors.

If she's convicted of the charges against her, Maxwell could face decades in prison.

The 58-year-old is accused of procuring and helping to groom girls as young as 14 for Epstein to sexually abuse. Epstein committed suicide last year while he was in custody in New York on suspicion of sexually abusing and exploiting dozens of girls between 2002 and 2005.

Prosecutors have said that Maxwell is suspected of helping Epstein to perpetuate the sexual abuse scheme even earlier, from at least 1994 to 1997.

“In some cases, Maxwell participated in the abuse herself,” Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said at a news conference earlier this month. “As alleged, Maxwell and Epstein had a method. Typically, they would befriend these young girls by asking them questions about their lives, pretending to be taking an interest in them. They would take them to the movies and treat them to shopping trips.”

Prosecutors said Maxwell encouraged some of Epstein’s victims to take him up on offers to pay for travel or educational opportunities, making the victims feel indebted to them and reinforcing the illusion that the pair was trying to help the victims.

Authorities said Maxwell “facilitated Jeffrey Epstein’s access to minor victims knowing that he had a sexual preference for underage girls and that he intended to engage in sexual activity with those victims.” In court records, prosecutors said girls were sexually abused at Epstein’s New York mansion, his home in Palm Beach, Florida, his ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Maxwell’s home in London.

Maxwell’s attorneys have said she “vigorously denies the charges, intends to fight them, and is entitled to the presumption of innocence.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.