Ghislaine Maxwell's legal team is hoping to have her sex trafficking convictions quashed in light of a recent ruling that freed Bill Cosby, the British socialite's lawyer told the Telegraph.
Cosby, the disgraced former comedian once beloved as "America's dad", was released from jail on Wednesday after a judge in Pennsylvania overturned his conviction based on an earlier non-prosecution agreement with the 83-year-old.
David Oscar Markus, a lawyer for Maxwell, said the decision should be applied to her upcoming trial on sex trafficking charges because of a 2007 plea deal struck with her former boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein.
The agreement allowed Epstein to escape prosecution on federal sex-trafficking charges and instead plead guilty to lesser state crimes as well as shielding the financier's alleged co-conspirators from prosecution.
"I am hopeful that the Maxwell judge will reconsider her decision in light of the Cosby opinion," Markus told the Telegraph. "If not, then there will be a trial and hopefully an appeal won't be necessary as the case is so weak. But if so, then this will be a primary issue for us."
Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to six counts that include sex trafficking of a minor and sex trafficking conspiracy. The trial is due to start in November.
"The government must live up to its promises. That's the basis of our system. Third party beneficiaries can enforce contracts. For example, if I pay someone to paint your house, the painter can't renege and say, well, [she] didn't sign the contract so I don't need to paint her house," he said.
Federal prosecutors have said that Epstein's plea deal does not apply to Maxwell because it was negotiated in the Southern District of Florida and not the Southern District of New York, where Maxwell has been charged.
Prosecutors also say that because Maxwell, 59, was not involved in its negotiations, she cannot enforce its provisions.
"But that reasoning makes no sense," Markus said. "We have one federal government, and the agreement says clearly that the United States would not prosecute Maxwell."
Clarifying a legal point, Markus said that while Epstein's agreement was made on others' behalf, as opposed to Cosby, "under the law if you are a third party beneficiary of a contract, you can enforce it, even if you are not a direct party".
Markus said Maxwell, who is being held in a federal prison in New York City, has been treated worse than male defendants facing more serious charges.
"I've never seen someone treated worse than Ghislaine," he said. "She is being punished so severely before there's even been a trial."
It comes just a week after Judge Alison Nathan ruled two of Maxwell's 2016 depositions in a civil case in which she was questioned about Epstein's sexual activities can be used at her trial later this year.
The judge had rejected her lawyers' argument that she had only participated in the depositions because she was promised they would be kept secret.
Meanwhile, Cosby accusers have spoken of their shock and anger over the comedian's release from prison.
"It is a discouraging message to sexual assault survivors," said Patricia Leary Steuer, who is among the dozens of women to have accused Cosby of assault.
"I hope it won't, because in the end all you can do is come forward and tell the truth."
Celebrities have also criticised the decision to overturn Cosby's conviction - one of the first prosecutions of the 'MeToo' movement which campaigned against the pervasiveness of sexual assaults in Hollywood.
Cosby was convicted in 2018 of drugging and molesting a woman in 2004, but had always maintained all his sexual encounters were consensual.
The conviction was quashed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on appeal after the court found that a previous prosecutor had made a deal with Cosby not to charge him in the case.
Dylan Farrow, who accused her adoptive father Woody Allen of sexually abusing her as a child, said: "Many survivors will look at the events of today and decide it's not worth it; that even when justice is served, it can be taken away." Allen has always denied the allegations.
In a statement, Cosby said: "I have never changed my stance nor my story. I have always maintained my innocence."