Ghislaine Maxwell's lawyers say she may not be strong enough for trial after fresh charges brought

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Josie Ensor
·3 min read
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Ghislaine Maxwell, 59, has been in jail in Brooklyn since her arrest in July on a host of crimes - Getty
Ghislaine Maxwell, 59, has been in jail in Brooklyn since her arrest in July on a host of crimes - Getty

Ghislaine Maxwell’s defence team has dismissed the US government’s decision to bring new charges against her as “tactical gamesmanship” and warned she may now not be strong enough to withstand the "stress of trial.”

New York federal prosecutors added two new sex trafficking charges in a superseding indictment based on a new victim’s allegations that Ms Maxwell sold her to Jeffrey Epstein when she was 14 years old. She has denied six previous charges of sex trafficking.

The British socialite’s lawyer claimed in a response to the court on Wednesday night that making the move “late in the game three months before trial is obvious tactical gamesmanship.”

Attorney Bobbi Sternheim said that filing charges that were never launched against her former boyfriend Epstein based on evidence that was in the government’s possession for years was “shocking, unfair, and an abuse of power.”

Ghislaine Maxwell speaks at a news conference at the United Nations in New York - Reuters TV
Ghislaine Maxwell speaks at a news conference at the United Nations in New York - Reuters TV

She stopped short of asking for a delay to the July 12 start day of her trial, but indicated they may decide to formally request one to give them extra time to prepare.

"This is no longer the two-week trial as represented by the government. By adding charges that encompass dozens of additional witnesses, the government has unilaterally destroyed the possibility that this case can be completed in the time allotted,” Ms Sternheim writes.

Ms Maxwell’s lawyers said the “late-breaking filing” is impacting the accused sex trafficker’s constitutional rights.

“The Court is aware of the extraordinary circumstances of Ms. Maxwell’s detention, its deleterious effect on her health and well-being. There is a realistic concern whether she will be strong enough to withstand the stress of trial,” Ms Sternheim said, appealing for a fourth bail hearing.

Her brother, Ian Maxwell, has complained to the media that the 59-year-old is being kept in conditions “tantamount to torture”.

He said his sister is "in effective isolation in a cell that measures six foot by nine foot and which includes a concrete bed and a toilet," and is under 24-hour surveillance.

Ms Maxwell, who is in a federal prison in Brooklyn awaiting her hearing, had her third bail application dismissed last week by Judge Alison Nathan at the US District Court of the Southern District of New York. She is appealing to the US Court of Appeals.

Her lawyers claimed in the plea that her conditions in jail are "fitting for Hannibal Lecter" and suggested that sexism is at play, noting that male defendants facing similarly serious charges, such as Bernie Madoff, Harvey Weinstein, and Bill Cosby, were released on bail.

They complain that the water at the Metropolitan Detention Center is “often cloudy and is not drinkable” and her food was microwaved with a plastic covering, rendering it “inedible.”

On Wednesday, Ms Maxwell's lawyers once again once again prodded Judge Nathan to release their client to home confinement: “Surely, the Court can impose conditions that ‘clip her wings’; and satisfy perceived flight concerns without keeping Ms. Maxwell locked in a BOP (Federal Bureau of Prisons) cage.”