Ghislaine Maxwell pleads not guilty to sex trafficking charges

British socialite is accused of helping Jeffrey Epstein recruit and sexually abuse girls

 Ghislaine Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges. File photograph: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Ghislaine Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges. File photograph: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

 

British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell pleaded not guilty on Friday to federal sex trafficking charges in the case accusing her of helping the late financier Jeffrey Epstein recruit and sexually abuse girls.

Maxwell (59) entered her plea through her lawyer before US district judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan.

The charges had been included in an eight-count indictment unveiled on March 29th. It was the first time Ms Maxwell had faced a judge in person since her arrest last July.

Prosecutors have accused Ms Maxwell of grooming and paying a girl who, starting at age 14, gave Epstein nude massages and was subjected to sex acts with him from 2001 to 2004, and said the girl recruited others to offer erotic massages.

Ms Maxwell previously pleaded not guilty to charges she helped Epstein recruit and groom three other girls for him to sexually abuse from 1994 to 1997, and that she committed perjury.

Epstein (66) took his own life in a Manhattan jail in August 2019, one month after being arrested on sex trafficking charges.

Ms Maxwell’s trial remains scheduled for July 12th provided a courtroom is available, but her lawyers are seeking a months-long delay because of the latest charges, a request prosecutors oppose.

Ms Justice Nathan has not decided whether to delay the trial, but said she wants to start as close as possible to July 12th if there were no delay.

Ms Maxwell faces up to 80 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

The two perjury counts would be handled separately in a second trial.

Friday’s hearing marked the first time Ms Maxwell has appeared in public in person since her arrest last July at her home in New Hampshire.

Ms Justice Nathan has denied bail three times, calling Ms Maxwell a substantial flight risk despite a proposed $28.5 million bail package.– Reuters