Ghislaine Maxwell denies sex trafficking charge in first appearance before judge

US

Ghislaine Maxwell has denied charges of sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy in her first appearance before a judge.

The 59-year-old, who was at one point Jeffrey Epstein‘s girlfriend, had previously denied other, similar charges.

In court documents, prosecutors allege that Maxwell recruited three teenage girls – one of whom was 14 – between 1994 and 1997 for Epstein to sexually abuse.

And a more recently filed charge accused Maxwell of recruiting another girl, also 14, in the early 2000s.

The indictment also alleges that Maxwell joined in the abuse.

The case was heard in a physical courtroom in New York because an earlier remote hearing in a related civil case was disrupted by the number of members of the public trying to listen in.

Maxwell’s legal team have argued that they need months more preparation time following the new charges levelled against their client.

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This puts the date of the trial – 12 July – in jeopardy.

But prosecutors state that it is only adding a single victim to the three already mentioned, and should not require substantial additional work.

At the hearing on Friday the judge did not make a decision about the date of the trial, but told the two groups of lawyers she wanted to avoid a long delay.

Maxwell has been held in custody since she was arrested in July 2020 in New Hampshire.

She has not been granted bail despite offering a $28.5m (£20.5) package and agreeing to live with an electronic monitoring tag and armed guards to make sure she does not leave a New York City residence.

Epstein took his own life in a Manhattan jail in August 2019 while awaiting a sex trafficking trial.

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