Ghislaine Maxwell court hearing disrupted by apparent QAnon followers

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Victoria Bekiempis
·3 min read
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<span>Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

A court proceeding on documents in civil litigation against the jailed British socialite and accused sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell was interrupted on Tuesday when the judge became aware of an unlawful live stream being viewed by numerous apparent followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory.

“Judge, I need to interrupt. I was just informed that apparently somebody is broadcasting this on to YouTube, so I don’t know if you want to give a reminder that that is illegal to do,” the deputy clerk told the Manhattan federal court judge Loretta Preska.

Related: FBI tracked down Ghislaine Maxwell using cellphone data

“Whoever is doing it, you are operating against the law,” Preska said of this stream, which attracted 14,000 listeners. “I suspect there is a way to find out. So I will ask you, most respectfully, to stop doing it.”

“We have had enough of lack of the rule of law around here. Let’s try to observe it.”

The stream shut down shortly thereafter.

The existence of a strong contingent of QAnon supporters listening in was based upon comments in a live chat that ran alongside the stream. The baseless, far-right conspiracy theory maintains that a cabal of Satan-worshipping Democrats and elites control the world while sex-trafficking children.

One commenter remarked, for example, “FREEE OUR CHILDREN NOW.” Another said: “PROTECT THE KIDS FROM THESE WEIRDOS”. There were also references to “National Popcorn Day”, which is a phrase widely used in QAnon circles.

The proceeding, which was held by telephone, was to discuss whether more documents in the Maxwell lawsuit would be unsealed. The public conference call line was full with hundreds of listeners, preventing many reporters from attending.

While Preska is releasing more documents in this litigation, some records involving Maxwell’s “intimate matters” will remain sealed, according to a transcript of the proceeding.

“Although the prurient interest of some may be left unsatiated as a result, Ms Maxwell’s interest in keeping private the details of her sexual relationships with consenting adults warrants the sealing of those portions of her testimony …” Preska said.

The records in question are from Jeffrey Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre’s 2015 civil lawsuit against Maxwell. Giuffre has alleged that Maxwell recruited her to be Epstein’s masseuse at 15 years old, when she was a locker-room attendant at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in south Florida.

In this lawsuit, Giuffre claimed that Maxwell had defamed her by publicly remarking that she was a liar in alleging that Epstein and Maxwell engaged in sexual misconduct. While the suit was settled in 2017, Maxwell was arrested in July on criminal charges related to her alleged involvement with Epstein’s sex trafficking of minors.

Epstein, Maxwell’s close friend and a convicted sex offender, was arrested in July 2019 with prosecutors stating that he “sexually exploited and abused dozens of underage girls” as young as 14. The financier killed himself in jail about one month later.

Records previously unsealed in this case contained bombshell claims about Maxwell, Epstein and Prince Andrew. The Duke of York – whom Giuffre accused of sexual misconduct – was among the many rich and powerful men who had associated with Epstein.

In her unsealed deposition, Giuffre said that Maxwell: “Trained me as a sex slave.”

Prince Andrew has vehemently denied all allegations of misconduct.