The judge presiding over the Ghislaine Maxwell case has banned her lawyers from publicly naming abuse victims involved in the lawsuit.
US District Judge Alison J Nathan ruled that Ms Maxwell’s attorneys cannot reveal the names of the individuals accusing her of sexual crimes in the course of her work for infamous pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
“Not all accusations or public statements are equal,” Ms Nathan wrote in her ruling.
The judge ruled that the victim’s contribution to the lawsuit is not the same as a public statement, and that the victims “still maintain a significant privacy interest that must be safeguarded.”
“Deciding to participate in or contribute to a criminal investigation or prosecution is a far different matter than simply making a public statement ‘relating to’ Ms Maxwell or Jeffrey Epstein, particularly since such a statement might have occurred decades ago and have no relevance to the charges in this case,” she wrote.
Prosecutors in the case asked Ms Nathan to block Ms Maxwell’s lawyers from releasing the names of the victims over fear that the women would be harassed or intimidated into not cooperating with the government.
The judge’s ban was enacted hours after the release of a new batch of unsealed documents from a defamation case filed by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, a woman who claims she was trafficked by Epstein and Ms Maxwell in the early 2000’s.
Ms Guiffre claimed Epstein and Ms Maxwell trafficked her out to prominent individuals both at Epstein’s private island and abroad.
She claims she was forced to engage in sexual acts with Prince Andrew as well as politicians, a famous scientist and powerful business executives.
All of the people Ms Guiffre has accused have denied the allegations.
The trove of newly released documents includes a curious email that appears to be written from Epstein to Ms Maxwell encouraging her to face her accusers and live her life “not as an (escaping) convict.”
However, the letter appears to be written in Ms Maxwell’s voice, as opposed to the tone established by Epstein in other examples of his writing.
“You have done nothing wrong and I (would) urge you to start acting like it,” Epstein allegedly wrote in the email.
Epstein died before he could be brought to trial while he was in prison in New York. Medical authorities ruled his death a suicide, though there continues to be widespread speculation and scepticism surrounding his death.
Ms Maxwell, his confidante and former girlfriend, was arrested by federal agents earlier this month after evading them for nearly a year.
She was taken into custody at her home in New Hampshire on 2 July and charged with six federal crimes, including sex trafficking, perjury and enticement of minors.
Ms Maxwell is currently in a jail in New York awaiting trial. She was denied bail and is considered an extreme flight risk, particularly because she holds a French passport and France does not extradite its citizens for trial. Her trial is scheduled for 12 July, 2021.