Ghislaine Maxwell, the longtime friend of Jeffrey Epstein arrested Thursday aand accused of helping him sexually abuse underage girls, could wind up in the same jail where he committed suicide last year.
Maxwell, 58, was arrested early Thursday morning in New Hampshire and is set for an afternoon hearing in federal court there. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan, who are handling the case, are opposing bail and seeking to have her held in custody before trial.
“We will be seeking detention,” Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss in Manhattan said in a press conference announcing charges. Prosecutors said Maxwell helped Epstein entice girls as young as 14 into sex from 1994 through 1997, then lied about it under oath in 2016.
Prosecutors warn that Maxwell has a “strong incentive” to flee if she’s not detained because she faces years in prison. “That risk is only amplified by the defendant’s extensive international ties, her citizenship in two foreign countries, her wealth, and her lack of meaningful ties to the United States,” they wrote in a detention memo. “In short, Maxwell has three passports, large sums of money, extensive international connections, and absolutely no reason to stay” in the U.S.
Back to New York
Unless the judge in New Hampshire releases her on bail, Maxwell will either be held overnight in a local jail there or transported immediately back to New York, said Jack Donson, a consultant who formerly worked for the federal Bureau of Prisons. In New York, she would likely be transferred to one of two federal lockups, the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan or the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.
Manhattan’s MCC is where Epstein, who was being held before trial on sex-trafficking charges, was found dead in his cell in August after hanging himself. How he was permitted to do so remains controversial. Two MCC guards are facing charges for falsifying records and failing to check on inmates in the hours before Epstein’s death. Both have pleaded not guilty.
In May, the Manhattan jail also faced criticism after a judge-ordered inspection found it was failing to adequately protect inmates from the coronavirus.
Asked if any special precautions will be taken to ensure Maxwell’s safety in custody, Strauss said: “As you know, we are sensitive to that concern and certainly we’ll be in dialogue with the Bureau of Prisons about it.”
Donson said it was possible federal officials might choose to hold Maxwell elsewhere to avoid press attention. “Maybe they’ll want to get her out of New York entirely,” he said. Wherever she ends up, Maxwell will be evaluated for suicide or other risks, he added.
© Copyright 2021 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.