July 13, 2020 / 5:21 PM / 23 days ago

U.S. calls Ghislaine Maxwell's bail request 'nothing,' urges no special treatment

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Ghislaine Maxwell cannot be trusted to be freed on bail while facing charges she helped advance Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse, and deserves no “special treatment” because she might contract COVID-19 in jail, U.S. prosecutors said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Audrey Strauss, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York speaks alongside William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office, at a news conference announcing charges against Ghislaine Maxwell for her role in the sexual exploitation and abuse of minor girls by Jeffrey Epstein in New York City, New York, U.S., July 2, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

Prosecutors urged Maxwell’s continued detention one day before her scheduled arraignment on charges she helped the late financier recruit and eventually abuse girls from 1994 to 1997, and lied about her role in depositions in 2016.

Maxwell is in federal custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. She was arrested on July 2 in Bradford, New Hampshire, where authorities said had been hiding out at a 156-acre (63-hectare) property she bought last December.

Lawyers for Maxwell urged on Friday she be freed on $5 million bond, subject to home confinement with electronic monitoring.

But prosecutors said her wealth, multiple citizenships and being “skilled at living in hiding” made her an “extraordinary” flight risk.

“The court should take the proposed bail package for what it is worth: nothing,” prosecutors said.

Prosecutors also said Maxwell did not deserve favoured treatment over detainees at the Brooklyn jail who, unlike her, have medical conditions making COVID-19 a greater risk.

Maxwell faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted.

Epstein hung himself last Aug. 10 at age 66 in a Manhattan jail, while awaiting trial on charges he sexually exploited dozens of girls and women from 2002 to 2005.

In Friday’s filing, Maxwell’s lawyers said she had always denied being involved in misconduct related to Epstein.

They also said she was shielded by Epstein’s 2007 plea agreement with federal prosecutors in Miami, which covered “any potential co-conspirators.”

The Manhattan prosecutors called that claim “absurd,” saying they were not bound by the agreement, and Maxwell’s indictment covered conduct from several years earlier.

Former prosecutor Duncan Levin said Maxwell faced an uphill battle for bail, citing public pressure and “the vast number of victims” allegedly harmed by Epstein.

Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware, and Karen Freifeld and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Tom Brown

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