Judge Orders Release of More Ghislaine Maxwell Documents | Law & Crime
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Judge Orders More Ghislaine Maxwell Files into the Sunlight, Except for Prurient Info About Adults

Audrey Strauss, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announces charges against Ghislaine Maxwell during a July 2, 2020, press conference in New York City.

Convicted and deceased pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s accused accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell cannot stop the release of the next tranche of documents in a longstanding open-records battle—except information about her dalliances with other consenting adults, which may remain sealed.

Slated for release on Friday, Jan. 29, the next batch of documents stem from a years long court-fight with Virginia Giuffre, who previously accused Maxwell in a defamation lawsuit of turning her into Epstein’s “sex slave.”

That case settled with a broad swath of the docket under seal, precipitating a fight by the Miami Herald and others to unearth the files.

The fight began well before Epstein and Maxwell were charged, and it has remained ongoing despite protests from Maxwell that it would interfere with her right to a fair trial.

Time and again, U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska ruled that this claim does not outweigh the press and public’s right of access.

“Ms. Maxwell’s observation of the general media coverage of the unsealing process does little to show how the unsealing of any specific information at issue in the current round of unsealing will jeopardize her right to a fair trial that is likely many months away, or why this cannot be cured through the normal processes in place for jury selection,” Preska said during a telephone conference on Tuesday, where she recited her ruling.

Preska added that Maxwell can keep consensual affairs under seal.

“This testimony is, in any case, far afield from the sex trafficking and sexual abuse allegations that were central to the dispute in Giuffre v. Maxwell,” Preska noted. “Although the prurient interest of some may be left unsatiated as a result, Ms. Maxwell’s interest in keeping private the details of her sexual relationships with consenting adults warrants the sealing of those portions of her testimony (and any materials that reference them).”

The judge found that Giuffre also is entitled to keep certain medical information private.

“The court finds, as it did for the last round of motions it considered for unsealing, that Ms. Giuffre’s privacy interests in her medical records, where they reference the medical treatment she received, outweigh any public interests in those materials,” Preska said.

The Herald and their reporter Julie K. Brown also sought transcripts of two unnamed “Does,” who did not object to their identification. One of them already went public to the press.

Preska previously ordered the release of those transcripts, giving them one last opportunity to prevent their disclosure.

“Does 1 and 2 did, belatedly, ask that their names not be disclosed, after the horse was already out of the barn,” the judge noted. “They were given an additional opportunity to lodge formal objections, but did not do so.”

“Having received no normal objection from Does 1 or 2, the court cannot discern a justification for continued sealing of their names in this case’s documents,” she concluded.

Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz’s name can also be unsealed, adding to his number of mentions in the litigation documents. Giuffre accused Dershowitz, who used to be Epstein’s lawyer, of sexually abusing her, and the two have been locked in defamation battles after the professor called her a “certified, complete, total liar.”

Having lost multiple appeals seeking to block prior disclosures, Maxwell’s attorney Laura Menninger appears to be leaning toward accepting defeat this round.

“I think an appeal looks unlikely,” she said. “But once we see the redactions, we would have to make that determination and confer with Ms. Maxwell, who is in custody, as you know. I would just ask for a little bit of leeway to be able to do those two things.”

Preska broadened the window to comply with her order, originally for within a week, until a week from Friday.

The last batch of unsealed files from November disclosed testimony from Epstein’s ex-house manager that Maxwell photographed topless young girls by the pedophile’s pool.

“When these girls came to the house, most of the European — there were some Americans; they also took their top off — they would go in the sun, they would go in the pool without the tops,” John Alessi testified. “I don’t remember seeing nude girls. Nude, with me, means nothing on. They would have the bottoms on and no tops. Some of them. Some will go with a full swimming costume.”

Maxwell faces four charges claiming that she groomed Epstein’s victims for sexual abuse, plus two other counts that she perjured herself to cover it up.

[image via JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images]

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Law&Crime's senior investigative reporter and 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.