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Ghislaine Maxwell wants trial delay, blames prosecutors

EUROPE
By Reuters | April 16th 2021

Ghislaine Maxwell appears via video link during her arraignment hearing in Manhattan Federal Court, New York, US. [Reuters]

A lawyer for Ghislaine Maxwell has asked a U.S. judge to delay the July 12 criminal trial of Jeffrey Epstein's former associate by at least 90 days, blaming prosecutors for belatedly adding sex trafficking charges that frustrate her ability to be ready sooner.

In a Thursday night letter, the lawyer Bobbi Sternheim said prosecutors "effectively added a brand new case on top of the existing case" by adding the new charges in a March 29 indictment.

Maxwell, 59, has now been charged with eight felonies, and could face 80 years in prison if convicted.

"The new charges up the ante," Sternheim wrote to U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan.

"A continuance - the need for which is caused solely by the government - is reasonable and necessary in defense of Ms. Maxwell. The denial of a continuance risks a miscarriage of justice."

A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss in Manhattan declined to comment.

The new charges concern accusations that between 2001 and 2004, Maxwell groomed and paid a girl, starting at age 14, to give Epstein nude massages, engage in sex acts with the financier, and recruited others to offer erotic massages.

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Maxwell is to be arraigned on those charges on April 23.

She previously pleaded not guilty to helping Epstein recruit, groom and sexually abuse three other girls from 1994 to 1997, and to perjury for lying about her role in depositions taken in 2016 for a separate civil trial.

In seeking a delay, Sternheim cited the need to review "voluminous" materials including more than 2.4 million pages of documents, 214,000 photos and hundreds of hours of audiovisual files.

She also called it "laughable" for prosecutors to defend the indictment's timing by saying travel and safety concerns arising from the COVID-19 pandemic kept them from meeting the fourth Epstein accuser until January.

Maxwell was arrested last July, and is jailed at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.

Nathan has rejected bail three times. The federal appeals court in Manhattan is scheduled to hear Maxwell's latest bail appeal on April 26.

Epstein killed himself in jail at age 66 in August 2019 after being charged with sex trafficking.

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