Ghislaine Maxwell offers $5m for bail as she claims she has been made a scapegoat

Josie Ensor
·4-min read
Lawyers for British heiress Ghislaine Maxwell claim she is not a flight risk, as they appeal to court in New York to grant her bail - Reuters
Lawyers for British heiress Ghislaine Maxwell claim she is not a flight risk, as they appeal to court in New York to grant her bail - Reuters

Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers are appealing to a New York court to grant the British heiress bail, secured by properties in the UK worth millions of dollars, as they claimed she has been made a scapegoat.

Ms Maxwell is being held at the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn on charges she helped lure at least three girls, one as young as 14, to be sexually abused by longtime associate Jeffrey Epstein. She denies the charges.

Lawyers offered a $5m bond assured by six trusted friends and family members and secured against property in Britain worth up to $3.75m, according to papers filed at the US District Court of the Southern District of New York on Friday.

Ms Maxwell's defence argues that "Ghislaine Maxwell is not Jeffrey Epstein" and does not pose any threat to the community, or suffer from any "compulsive sexual proclivities".

They claim she was made a scapegoat for the disgraced financier after he killed himself in a Manhattan jail last summer.

"The media focus quickly shifted to our client - wrongly trying to substitute her for Epstein - even though (she) had never been charged with a crime or been found liable in any civil litigation and has always denied any allegations of claimed misconduct," lawyers Mark Cohen and Jeffrey Pagliuca say.

Donald Trump and his girlfriend (and future wife), former model Melania Knauss, financier (and future convicted sex offender) Jeffrey Epstein, and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell pose together at the Mar-a-Lago club, Palm Beach, Florida - Getty
Donald Trump and his girlfriend (and future wife), former model Melania Knauss, financier (and future convicted sex offender) Jeffrey Epstein, and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell pose together at the Mar-a-Lago club, Palm Beach, Florida - Getty

They also claimed Ms Maxwell, 58, would be at “serious risk” of contracting Covid-19 if she remained in prison, claiming the coronavirus is an “unprecedented and extraordinary dangerous threat that justifies release on bail.” 

Under the prison system's virus protocols, Ms Maxwell is currently undergoing a 14-day quarantine.

Five inmates and six staff members are currently reported to have the virus. A further eight inmates and 35 staff members previously diagnosed have recovered from the disease.

The daughter of British publishing magnate Robert Maxwell is due to appear remotely in court in Manhattan on Tuesday, where her application for bail will be heard.

She will be arraigned by the judge on six charges, including that she conspired to entice girls to engage in illegal sex acts with Epstein from 1994 through 1997 at his homes in New York City, Florida and New Mexico, and at Ms Maxwell’s residence in London.

Prosecutors have asked that she be detained in custody and denied bail because she has "extensive international ties, three passports, citizenship in two other countries and absolutely no reason to stay in the US." 

They said she was an "extreme" flight risk as she has travelled at least 15 times internationally in the last three years, including to the UK, Japan, and Qatar. 

Ms Maxwell’s lawyers claimed in their defence motion on Friday that she has no desire to leave the US as she has “very close ties” with family members and friends in New York and has lived in the country for over 30 years.

 They told of how she was a godmother and enjoyed relationships with her nieces and nephews. 

Metropolitan Detention Center where Ghislaine Maxwell is being held in Brooklyn New York - Reuters
Metropolitan Detention Center where Ghislaine Maxwell is being held in Brooklyn New York - Reuters

They argued that she has faced multiple civil lawsuits by Epstein’s victims over the years and “did not flee”. They claimed that she has not once left the country since Epstein’s arrest on sex trafficking charges last July. 

They proposed she surrender all passports and submit to electronic tagging, restraining her travel to the “southern and eastern districts” of New York.

Prosecutors say that Ms Maxwell has more than a dozen bank accounts, with the largest one containing more than $20 million. 

She had been living in a house in Bradford, New Hampshire, when she was arrested by FBI officers last week.

Property which is believed to be the home of Ghislaine Maxwell in Bradford, New Hampshire 
Property which is believed to be the home of Ghislaine Maxwell in Bradford, New Hampshire

A court filing stated that Ms Maxwell appears to have been living on a 156-acre property in the picturesque town that she bought last December in a cash purchase, using a limited liability company to shield her identity. 

Ms Maxwell denied the prosecution's suggestion that she had been “hiding from the law”, claiming that she retreated from society due an "onslaught' of media attention that amounted to an "open season".

Epstein had made a similar plea for bail after his arrest last year, offering to remain at his $77 million New York mansion.

His application was denied.