Ghislaine Maxwell's bail denied as judge concludes British socialite remains a 'flight risk'

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Rozina Sabur
·4 min read
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Ghislaine Maxwell will remain in custody until her trial next year - Patrick McMullan /Getty
Ghislaine Maxwell will remain in custody until her trial next year - Patrick McMullan /Getty

Ghislaine Maxwell has had her second application for bail denied after a US judge ruled she remained a "flight risk" despite the British socialite pledging almost $30 million in bail.

The ruling means Ms Maxwell will likely remain in a New York jail until her trial next year on six charges relating to claims she helped Jeffrey Epstein recruit and groom underage girls for sex in the 1990s.

Lawyers for Ms Maxwell had offered a $28.5 million (£21m) bail package - one of the largest offered to a US court in history - in a bid to secure her release from prison before Christmas.

The proposal included home confinement with electronic monitoring and 24-hour guard to ensure she remained safe and would not escape.

Ms Maxwell's husband, tech CEO Scott Borgerson, has offered to put up more than $22 million of the pledged assets, and wrote a letter to the judge calling Ms Maxwell a "wonderful and loving person".

Ghislaine Maxwell met Jeffrey Epstein in the 1990s - Patrick McMullan /Getty
Ghislaine Maxwell met Jeffrey Epstein in the 1990s - Patrick McMullan /Getty

Ms Maxwell’s siblings, including her brothers Kevin and Ian Maxwell, are thought to have agreed to post a further $5 million in bail guarantees  while a private security company stood to lose an additional $1 million if she evaded its surveillance.

Ms Maxwell, who holds British and French citizenship, had also offered to waive her rights to oppose extradition from the UK or France as a condition of her bail.

The 59-year-old daughter of the disgraced tycoon Robert Maxwell has been in a detention centre in Brooklyn since shortly after her arrest in July this year on charges of  recruiting and grooming girls as young as 14 years old for sex in the mid-1990s.

Brian Basham, a public relations veteran and close friend of the family, has alleged that Ms Maxwell has lost 25lbs while in jail and that when she complained, the prison authorities simply removed her scales to prevent her from recording any further weight loss.

Ms Maxwell, a vegan, was not being fed a proper diet and went 20 hours without food in recent days, he said.

He also complained that she was forced to wear clothes made of paper and was refused permission to wear a bra because of fears she is a suicide risk.

Prison guards, he said, have stopped talking to her and she is in isolation in a cell 9ft by 7ft. Letters from family have not reached her, Mr Basham has alleged.

Prosecutors had strongly opposed the second bail attempt, arguing that Ms Maxwell's considerable wealth demonstrated she could “absolutely afford” to flee.

The prosecution had further claimed that the socialite's claims her marriage would keep her in the United States were undercut by the fact that she had revealed she was "in the process of divorcing her husband" at the time of her arrest in July.

Ms Maxwell's lawyers rejected the claims, arguing that she had only discussed getting a divorce from her husband to “protect” him from the "terrible consequences" of being publicly linked to her.

They argued there was later no reason to continue the idea of a divorce, which "neither of them wanted in the first place".

But in a ruling on Monday, US District Judge Alison Nathan, who denied Maxwell's initial bail application in July, said none of the new arguments had a "material bearing" on whether the 59-year-old was a flight risk.

Ms Nathan said "none of the new information" in Ms Maxwell's second bail application had changed the Court’s determination that she "poses a flight risk" while none of the proposed bail conditions could "reasonably assure" she would appear at future court proceedings.

Ms Nathan said she had considered Ms Maxwell's "history and characteristics" as well as the nature of the charges and the weight of the evidence against her in reaching her decision.

The Judge wrote that she "again concludes that no conditions of release can reasonably assure the defendant's appearance at future proceedings."

Ms Maxwell has always denied the charges and has pleaded not guilty to helping Jeffrey Epstein recruit and groom underage girls for sex in the 1990s.  Epstein killed himself in a New York jail last year while awaiting trial.

Ms Maxwell's trial is scheduled for July 2021.