Ghislaine Maxwell's Attempt to Delay Trial Stresses Victims: Feds
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Ghislaine Maxwell’s Trial Delay Requests Have Caused ‘Significant’ and ‘Enormous’ Stress for Victims, Feds Tell Judge

Ghislaine Maxwell’s latest requests to postpone her trial have stressed out victims who want closure in their decades-old cases, federal prosecutors told a judge on the eve of Maxwell’s next court date.

Since being hit with new sex-trafficking claims that both introduced a “Minor Victim-4” and extended the length of the charged conspiracy, Maxwell’s lawyers demanded to postpone the trial date and won a motion to split the trial in two: one for allegations that she groomed and abused Epstein’s victims and another accusing her of lying about that twice under oath.

Federal prosecutors told a judge there is no need to delay the jury on the first issue now that the case has been divided.

Given the defense’s expansive view of the amount of evidence and time that would be required to complete a trial of the perjury counts, their removal from the equation should largely make up for the additional trial time required to address the new charges and allegations regarding Minor Victim-4 in the [second superseding] indictment,”  Assistant U.S. Attorney Maureen Comey wrote in a ten-page brief filed late Thursday afternoon.

In late March, a grand jury in the Southern District of New York surprised many by leveling stiffer charges against Maxwell than Epstein ever faced while he was alive.  Those charges, which allege federal sex trafficking and a related conspiracy charge, expose Maxwell to a possible 80-year sentence — in essence, life in prison.

The new indictment also introduced a new alleged victim whom the government revealed first agreed to be interviewed last summer. Her interview extended the length of the alleged conspiracy, which was originally charged as having occurred between 1994 to 1997. Prosecutors have now placed the end year in 2004, chipping away a defense talking point about the government dusting off old allegations to mollify popular anger about the original soft-gloved treatment of Epstein.

Accusing the government of effectively sandbagging the defense, Maxwell’s lawyer Bobbi Sternheim called the late-breaking charges “shocking, unfair, and an abuse of power” and asked for more time to prepare for the new allegations. Her client demanded to be arraigned in person on Friday, refusing even the typical COVID-era practice of remote proceedings in an attempt to avoid what the defense has depicted as a media circus. (A previous Maxwell remote appearance was illegally broadcast on YouTube by QAnon supporters.)

Prosecutors described turning over a massive discovery haul to the defense consisting of 1.2 million documents—totaling approximately 2.2 million pages — in searchable format, including “Highly Confidential images or other items that must be reviewed in the presence of federal agents.”

“Moreover, the defense’s suggestion that it will need to re-review every single page of discovery produced to date is, at best, hyperbolic,” prosecutors wrote, telling the judge that further delay will harm those describing themselves as Maxwell’s survivors.

“The longer this case remains pending, the longer the victims suffer the anxiety of anticipating their trial testimony and the uncertainty of awaiting a resolution,” the brief states. “As a result, multiple victims oppose any adjournment of the trial date. In particular, Minor Victim-3 expressed feeling significant stress during the pendency of this case and a strong desire to have the case brought to a close through trial as soon as possible. Similarly, Minor Victim-2 also indicated that she has experienced an enormous amount of stress while this case has been pending, wishes to see the case brought to trial.”

Maxwell will appear in court before District Judge Alison Nathan on Friday. The judge has repeatedly denied Maxwell’s requests for pre-trial release, calling her a risk of flight and danger to the community. The accused sex-trafficker has continued to renew her motions for bond.

Maxwell’s trial is currently scheduled for July 12.

[image via JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images]

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on MSNBC, BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks.