pleaded not guilty Friday to sex-trafficking counts and charges that she enticed and groomed underage girls for the late disgraced financier
making her first appearance in a Manhattan federal courtroom Friday since her arrest last summer.
Dressed in prison scrubs, with her ankles shackled, Ms. Maxwell sat between two of her lawyers, one of whom entered the plea on her behalf to a new indictment filed last month, which added sex-trafficking charges to the six counts the former British socialite already faced.
Ms. Maxwell, 59 years old, is set to go to trial July 12 on the counts related directly to her alleged role in Mr. Epstein’s sex-trafficking network. U.S. District Judge
Alison J. Nathan
said Friday she would consider Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers’ request to push back the trial until the fall.
Ms. Maxwell would then face a separate criminal trial, at a later date, for two perjury charges related to her testimony in a 2016 civil deposition for a defamation lawsuit filed against her by a woman who alleged she was trafficked and abused by Ms. Maxwell and Mr. Epstein. Ms. Maxwell also pleaded not guilty to the perjury charges and denies the allegations in the lawsuit.
Judge Nathan ruled last week to sever the perjury charges, which were part of the original indictment against Ms. Maxwell last year, on the grounds that they could bring unwieldy legal issues to bear on the sex-trafficking trial.
Mr. Epstein’s July 2019 arrest on sex-trafficking charges cast a spotlight on his relationships with a network of powerful politicians and business leaders. It also drew attention to Ms. Maxwell, who had long been associated with Mr. Epstein and, like Mr. Epstein, was dogged by allegations of sexual impropriety. Ms. Maxwell has denied wrongdoing.
A year later, authorities arrested Ms. Maxwell at a remote New Hampshire estate. In addition to the perjury charges, the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office charged her with enticing and transporting minors to engage in illegal sex acts.
She has since been held in a New York jail. Judge Nathan has denied her lawyers’ requests to release her, citing the “clear risk of flight.” Ms. Maxwell, the daughter of late U.K. media tycoon Robert Maxwell, has disclosed substantial wealth, although prosecutors have accused her of trying to hide her full financial picture.
Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers also filed multiple motions to dismiss the previous indictment, saying it violates a 2007 nonprosecution agreement between Mr. Epstein and federal prosecutors in Florida, and calling the charges outdated, vague and redundant.
In an opinion last month, Judge Nathan denied the motions to dismiss the indictment, in part because of the filing of the new indictment.
Write to Rebecca Davis O’Brien at Rebecca.OBrien@wsj.com
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Appeared in the April 24, 2021, print edition as ‘Maxwell Pleads Not Guilty to Sex-Trafficking.’
Source: WSJ – US News