Maxwell set for first New York hearing in Epstein sex abuse case

Ghislaine Maxwell, pictured in 2003, faces a lengthy jail sentence if found guilty on charges linked to Jeffrey Epstein's sex crimes (AFP Photo/Laura Cavanaugh)
Ghislaine Maxwell, pictured in 2003, faces a lengthy jail sentence if found guilty on charges linked to Jeffrey Epstein's sex crimes (AFP Photo/Laura Cavanaugh)

New York (AFP) - British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has been brought to New York and is due to make her first appearance in court there on sex trafficking charges related to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein this week, officials say.

Maxwell -- who was arrested and charged in New Hampshire last week after months of living in seclusion -- is due to be arraigned in a Manhattan federal court on Friday, according to a letter prosecutors submitted to the judge.

She faces six counts related to crimes allegedly committed by Epstein, her former boyfriend and a convicted sex offender who killed himself in prison while awaiting trial last summer.

They include perjury and conspiracy to entice minors as young as 14 years old to travel in order to engage in illegal sex acts. Maxwell is also accused of taking part in some of the sexual abuse.

Prosecutors have requested that Maxwell, the 58-year-old daughter of late newspaper baron Robert Maxwell, be denied bail during Friday's hearing.

They say she is an "extreme" flight risk, pointing out that she has passports from the United States, Britain and France.

The attorneys also say they have identified 15 bank accounts associated with her in the last four years. The total balance of these accounts has ranged from hundreds of thousands of dollars to more than $20 million.

Maxwell faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted.

"In short, Maxwell has three passports, large sums of money, extensive international connections, and absolutely no reason to stay in the United States and face the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence," the prosecution said in its detention memo.

Maxwell, born in France but raised in Britain, has been transferred to New York following her arrest by FBI agents and New York police last Thursday.

She is being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center, a federal prison in Brooklyn, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons confirmed to AFP on Monday.

Epstein, 66, hanged himself in Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center in August 2019 while awaiting trial on charges of trafficking minors for sex. He had pleaded not guilty.

Two prison guards have been charged with failing to monitor him properly.

Maxwell is accused of recruiting girls to perform sexual favors for Epstein between 1994 and 1997. She is also accused of repeatedly lying under oath during a 2016 civil trial.

Epstein was a wealthy hedge fund manager who befriended countless celebrities over the years, including Britain's Prince Andrew.

The royal, who was introduced to Epstein by Maxwell, vehemently denies claims he had sex with a 17-year-old girl procured by Epstein.

Epstein was convicted in Florida in 2008 of paying young girls for massages, but served just 13 months in jail under a secret plea deal struck with the then state prosecutor.

While his death was ruled a suicide, it has fueled conspiracy theories, most speculating he was murdered to stop him from revealing compromising information about wealthy acquaintances.