Ghislaine Maxwell pleads not guilty to new charges

The British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell pleaded not guilty on Friday to federal sex trafficking charges.

Maxwell entered the plea through her lawyer, during what was her first appearance before a judge since her arrest last summer.

Maxwell is accused of helping the late financier Jeffrey Epstein recruit and sexually abuse girls.

Her attorney, David Oscar Markus, spoke outside the court:

"We just finished court upstairs for Ghislaine (Maxwell). She was there. She's courageous and tough. It was not easy to come to court."

Last month, a new indictment brought more charges against Maxwell, increasing the total count to eight.

Prosecutors alleged that Maxwell groomed and paid a 14-year-old girl to give Epstein nude massages from 2001 to 2004.

Maxwell has previously pleaded not guilty to similar charges, which allege that she helped Epstein recruit three other girls for him to sexually abuse from 1994 to 1997.

She also denies lying under oath.

Maxwell's trial is scheduled for July 12, but her lawyers want a months-long delay because of the new charges.

Prosecutors have opposed that request and a decision is yet to be made.

David Boies is a lawyer for Epstein's victims.

"As all of you know, this is taking a very long time to get here. They've been fighting this for literally decades, and they've been actively fighting it for seven years now. It was almost seven years ago that we brought the first lawsuit against Ms. Maxwell - a civil lawsuit. So they're (Jeffrey Epstein's victims) looking forward to a resolution."

A U.S. judge has denied Maxwell bail three times, calling her a substantial flight risk despite a proposed $28.5 million bail package.

If eventually found guilty, Maxwell faces up to 80 years in prison.

Her former boyfriend, Jeffrey Epstein, killed himself in jail in 2019, while awaiting his trial on sex trafficking charges.