Jeffrey Epstein's former girlfriend will remain behind bars until trial after she was denied bail as a risk to flee rather than face charges she recruited girls for the financier to sexually abuse more than two decades ago.
Two Epstein accusers implored the judge to keep British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell detained after she pleaded not guilty to the charges during a video court hearing in Manhattan.
U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan said even the most restrictive form of release would be insufficient to ensure Maxwell would not flee, particularly now that she has seen the strength of the evidence and realises that she could face up to 35 years in prison if she is convicted.
A trial has been set down for July next year.
She has pleaded not guilty to charges she recruited girls and women for the financier to sexually abuse more than two decades ago.
The British socialite appeared in a video court hearing in Manhattan and was refused bail because she posed a substantial actual risk of flight.
Maxwell, 58, has been held without bail since her July 2 arrest at her million-dollar New Hampshire estate, where prosecutors say she refused to open the door for FBI agents, who busted through to find that she had retreated to an interior room.
She was charged with recruiting at least three girls, one as young as 14, for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 1997.
An indictment alleged that she helped groom the victims to endure sexual abuse and was sometimes there when Epstein abused them.
It also alleged that she lied during a 2016 deposition in a civil case stemming from Epstein's abuse of girls and women.
Epstein killed himself in August 2019, several weeks after he was confronted by two accusers at a bail hearing who insisted that he should remain in jail while awaiting sex trafficking charges that alleged he abused girls at his Manhattan and Florida mansions in the early 2000s.
In court papers, Maxwell's lawyers argued that Epstein's death left the media "wrongly trying to substitute her for Epstein — even though she'd 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".
Prosecutors had argued in court papers filed Monday that Maxwell was a danger to flee the country if she was freed on $5 million 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 have said she "vigorously denies the charges, intends to fight them, and is entitled to the presumption of innocence".