Jeffrey Epstein’s former girlfriend is to face a judge and at least one of her accusers at a video hearing to determine whether she stays behind bars until trial on charges that she recruited girls for the financier to sexually abuse a quarter of a century before he killed himself in a Manhattan jail.
The hearing in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday afternoon is expected to feature a not-guilty plea by British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell along with arguments over whether she will flee if she is released.
Even if she is granted bail, she will almost certainly remain in jail to give prosecutors time to appeal, and for authorities to arrange an electronic bracelet and verify her collateral and the finances of anyone required to pledge additional security.
The confrontation with any of her accusers will be an unusual spectacle, with participants appearing by video on a screen in a large jury assembly room at a Manhattan courthouse where the 60 or so spectators are tested for fevers and must answer questions related to Covid-19.
A year earlier, Epstein took his life several weeks after he too was confronted at a bail hearing by two accusers who insisted that he should remain locked up while awaiting sex trafficking charges which alleged that he abused girls at his Manhattan and Florida mansions in the early 2000s.
Maxwell, 58, has been held without bail since being arrested on July 2 at her million-dollar New Hampshire estate, where prosecutors say she refused to open the door for FBI agents, who broke in to find that she had retreated to an interior room.
In the indictment, she is charged with recruiting at least three girls, one as young as 14, for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 1997.
It alleges that she helped groom the victims to accept sexual abuse and was sometimes there when Epstein abused them. It also alleges that she lied during a 2016 deposition in a civil case stemming from Epstein’s abuse of girls and women.
Among the most sensational accusations is a claim by one Epstein victim, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, that Maxwell arranged for her to have sex with the Duke of York at her London townhouse.
Andrew denies the allegations.
In court papers, Maxwell’s lawyers argued that Epstein’s death left the media “wrongly trying to substitute her for Epstein – even though she had had no contact with Epstein for more than a decade, had never been charged with a crime or been found liable in any civil litigation, and has always denied any allegations of claimed misconduct”.
The hearing comes a day after prosecutors argued in court papers that the British socialite is likely to flee the country if she is freed on 5 million dollars bail, which her lawyers recommended.
“The defendant has not only the motive to flee, but the means to do so swiftly and effectively,” prosecutors wrote, citing her access to millions of dollars and the scant information about her finances provided by her lawyers.
Maxwell’s lawyers say in court papers that their client will remain at home, protected by electronic monitoring, private security and her friends and two siblings who live in the United States.
“Ms Maxwell vigorously denies the charges, intends to fight them, and is entitled to the presumption of innocence,” they wrote.
They said she has lived in the US since 1991 and has not left the country in the last year “even though she was aware of the pending, and highly publicised, criminal investigation”.