By JAMES HILL, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — The husband of Ghislaine Maxwell and more than a dozen of her family members and friends have submitted letters to a federal court in support of an effort to obtain pretrial release for the accused co-conspirator of the late sex-offender Jeffrey Epstein, according to court documents made public on Monday.
The letters attest to “Maxwell’s strong, forthright character” and “their confidence that she will not flee,” her attorneys wrote in a renewed motion for bail, which also includes a proposed bond package totaling $28.5 million secured by three U.S. properties owned by Maxwell and her husband along with other assets of close family and friends.
The court filing reveals for the first time that Maxwell, the youngest daughter of the late British publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell, has been married since 2016 and was living what her attorneys describe as a “quiet family life with her spouse” until Epstein’s arrest last year “ignited a media frenzy that has ripped the family apart.” Maxwell’s husband, whose name is redacted from the public version of the filing, wrote that the person described in the federal government’s criminal charges is “not the person we know.”
“I have never witnessed anything close to inappropriate with Ghislaine; quite to the contrary, the Ghislaine I know is a wonderful and loving person,” her husband wrote in a letter accompanying the motion for bail.
Following Epstein’s death in August 2019, prosecutors vowed to hold accountable anyone who allegedly conspired with him or participated in his alleged child-sex trafficking crimes. Their attention quickly turned to Maxwell, who had previously been accused in civil lawsuits of allegedly facilitating Epstein’s abuse of young women and girls, allegations that she has long denied. She was arrested on July 2 in a surprise early morning raid at a secluded property in New Hampshire.
She has pleaded not guilty to a six-count indictment alleging that she conspired with Epstein in a multi-state sex trafficking scheme involving three unnamed minor victims between 1994 and 1997. Prosecutors contend Maxwell not only “befriended” and later “enticed and groomed multiple minor girls to engage in sex acts with Epstein, through a variety of means and methods,” but was also, at times, “present for and involved” in the abuse herself.
At a detention hearing less than two weeks after her arrest, prosecutors argued that Maxwell was the “very definition of a flight risk” and convinced U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan to keep Maxwell locked up until trial. They also faulted Maxwell for refusing to disclose the identity or assets of her previously unknown spouse.
“She has three passports, large sums of money, extensive international connections, and absolutely no reason to stay in the United States to face a potential significant term of incarceration,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Moe.
But Maxwell’s lawyers argue in the renewed bail application that she “has deep and affective ties” to the United States, which she has called home for the last 30 years. Letters from supporters who “have known Ms. Maxwell for decades,” describe her as “deeply committed” to her family “and obviously very much at home and in love.” One friend’s letter attests to “the loving relationship she has with her husband … which I have personally witnessed on many different occasions.”
The friends and family who have written in support of Maxwell, her attorneys wrote, “know her to be the antithesis of what the government has alleged. They trust her completely, including with their minor children.”
“Far from the cruel caricature that the press has so recklessly depicted since the arrest of Jeffrey Epstein, these letters demonstrate that Ms. Maxwell is generous, loving, and devoted to her family and friends, and that her life is firmly rooted in this country with her spouse,” the court filing said. “Ms. Maxwell would never destroy those closest to her by fleeing, after they have risked so much to support her.”
Maxwell’s husband told the court in a letter that he did not come forward as a co-signer to her initial bail application because he and Maxwell were trying to protect their family “from ferocious media aggression.”
“Her spouse is coming forward now because he is deeply concerned about how she is being treated in the [federal detention center] and because the terrible consequences that he and Ms. Maxwell were trying to prevent have already occurred,” Maxwell’s attorneys wrote, while also noting that her husband had offered to post everything he owned as collateral to secure Maxwell’s appearances in court.
“If Ms. Maxwell were to violate her bail conditions, which she has no intention of doing, she would be leaving her spouse … with virtually nothing,” her lawyers wrote.
In his letter to the court, Maxwell’s husband wrote that he believed she “had nothing to do with Epstein’s crimes.”
“I pray for Ghislaine’s safety. I am praying for justice. And I pray for her constitutionally afforded due process,” he wrote. “With humility and deep compassion, I am also praying for Epstein’s victims.”
Maxwell’s marriage had been a well-kept secret until prosecutors made the surprise disclosure about her spouse during the July court hearing. According to the new bail motion, she got married in 2016 — the same year she was twice deposed in connection with a hotly contested civil defamation lawsuit filed against her by Virginia Giuffre.
Giuffre alleged that Maxwell recruited her at 16 years old into a life of sexual servitude to Epstein. She also accused Epstein and Maxwell of directing her to have sex with a number of their prominent associates, including Britain’s Prince Andrew on three occasions in 2001. Maxwell has denied Giuffre’s allegations, calling her an “absolute liar,” according to court records. Prince Andrew has denied the allegations and told the BBC last year that he had no recollection of ever meeting Giuffre.
According to a recently unsealed transcript of an April 2016 deposition in the case, Maxwell told Giuffre’s lawyers that she was then in the process of selling her New York City townhouse, but she answered vaguely about her plans for the future.
“Where do you intend to live once your townhome is sold?” asked Sigrid McCawley, counsel for Giuffre.
“That’s a good question. I don’t have an answer for you yet,” Maxwell responded, adding that she was “just couch surfing” at the time.
Maxwell’s attorneys have asked Judge Nathan to consider the new bail request on a compressed timetable that could, if granted, get Maxwell out of jail before the end of the year. Nathan has not yet committed to Maxwell’s request for a hearing as soon as Dec. 21. The judge directed prosecutors to submit their response to Maxwell’s motion by Wednesday, and she may again seek input from the three women whose allegations are detailed in the criminal indictment against Maxwell before issuing a decision.
At the July bail hearing, a federal prosecutor read a statement from one of the alleged victims, who asked the judge, to “not let us down by allowing [Maxwell] the opportunity to further hurt her victims or evade the consequences that surely await her if justice is served. If she believes she risks prison, she will never come back.”
Another alleged victim, Annie Farmer, 41, publicly identified herself and implored Nathan to keep Maxwell locked up.
“She is a sexual predator who groomed and abused me and countless other children and young women,” Farmer said. “She has never shown any remorse for her heinous crimes, for the devastating, lasting effects her actions caused.”
Maxwell’s attorneys contend in their new bail motion that they have now assembled “substantial information and evidence” that was not available at the time of the first bail hearing, including a comprehensive financial report that pegs her net worth with her husband at $22.5 million and reveals that the couple has filed joint federal tax returns every year since 2016.
The motion also takes aim at what the defense team describes as “the weakness of the government’s case” against her. Her lawyers contend that the government has so far produced no “meaningful documentary corroboration” in pretrial discovery exchanges. And they argue that the investigation of Maxwell was launched only because of the government’s failure to keep Epstein alive to face the charges against him.
“The facts strongly imply that the government only chose to pursue a case against Ms. Maxwell – who was not named in the Epstein indictment – because the main target, Jeffrey Epstein, had died in their custody. The lack of corroboration in the discovery confirms that the case against Ms. Maxwell was an afterthought and was reverse engineered based on the allegations of 25-year-old conduct from a small number of alleged victims,” her attorneys wrote.
If granted bail under her proposed conditions, Maxwell would be restricted to a New York residence with round-the-clock security and GPS monitoring. She would also irrevocably waive her rights to contest extradition from France or England, the two countries other than the U.S., where Maxwell holds citizenship.
One friend, who has offered to post her $1.5 million home to secure the bond, wrote that she was willing to put up her “only nest-egg for retirement” because she knows “in every fiber of her being” that Maxwell “will never try to flee,” the court filing said. Another close friend pledged $25,000 that he had planned to set aside for his own daughter’s future. “[B]ut he is prepared to pledge it for Ms. Maxwell,” her lawyers wrote.
“In sum, these bonds reflect the depth of support that Ms. Maxwell has from her family and friends, who are risking their livelihoods, their safety, and their ability to live without constant media harassment to support her,” her attorneys wrote.
“Ms. Maxwell would never destroy those closest to her by fleeing, after they have risked so much to support her,” they said.
Maxwell’s attorneys contend that the proposed bail package is “exceptional in its scope” and that it “puts at risk everything” that she has if she were to flee.
“Ghislaine Maxwell is committed to defending herself and wants nothing more than to remain in this country, with her family and friends by her side, so that she can fight the allegations against her and clear her name,” her attorneys wrote.
Maxwell’s bail proposal also renews her concerns that the conditions of her confinement at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn are putting her health at risk and making it difficult for her to review documents in preparation for trial. She recently spent two weeks in quarantine protocol after a staff member assigned to her unit tested positive for COVID-19, according to court records.
“Ms. Maxwell’s quarantine period also resulted in cancellation of weekly in-person legal visits. This is likely to continue in light of the spike in COVID infection within and outside the MDC,” Maxwell’s lawyers wrote. “As of the date of this filing, the BOP reports 80 MDC inmates and staff with COVID.”
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