Ghislaine Maxwell loses bid to ban perjurious testimony from criminal trial

New York court rejects request to block prosecutors from using interviews of Jeffrey Epstein confidante lying about knowledge of sexual assault scheme as evidence against her

Audrey Strauss, acting US attorney for the Southern District of New York, points to a photo of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell during a news conference in New York, July 2, 2020. (John Minchillo/AP)
Audrey Strauss, acting US attorney for the Southern District of New York, points to a photo of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell during a news conference in New York, July 2, 2020. (John Minchillo/AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — Two 2016 depositions of Ghislaine Maxwell in a civil case in which she was repeatedly questioned about financier Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual activities can be used at her criminal trial this year over the objections of her lawyers, a judge ruled Friday.

US District Judge Alison J. Nathan in Manhattan rejected the request that she block prosecutors from using the interviews of Maxwell at her November sex trafficking trial.

Lawyers for the British socialite charged with procuring teenage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse had argued Maxwell only participated in the depositions because she was promised they would be kept secret.

The judge sealed her opinion explaining her reasoning until lawyers have time to recommend redactions.

Maxwell, 59, has been jailed since her arrest last July. The former girlfriend of Epstein has pleaded not guilty to charges that she recruited four teenage girls between 1994 and 2004 for Epstein.

Epstein, a wealthy financier, and convicted sex offender, killed himself in his cell at a federal Manhattan lockup in August 2019 as he awaited a sex trafficking trial.

Jeffrey Epstein, March 28, 2017. (New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP, File)

Judge Nathan has thrice rejected bail requests and a federal appeals court has twice agreed that Maxwell should remain incarcerated despite her willingness to pledge a $28.5 million bail package that would include 24-hour armed guards and an offer to reject her British and French citizenships. She is a US citizen too.

Her lawyers had hoped to force the dismissal of two perjury counts stemming from her answers to questions during depositions in April and July of 2016.

In one count, she was charged with lying when she said “I don’t know what you’re talking about” when she was asked during the April 2016 deposition whether Epstein had a “scheme to recruit underage girls for sexual massages.”

In another count, she was charged with perjury for saying she did not recall whether she was aware of the presence of sex toys or devices in sexual activities at Epstein’s Palm Beach, Florida, home, and for saying she wasn’t aware whether Epstein was having sexual activities with anyone other than herself.

The perjury charges stemmed from Maxwell’s comments during depositions resulting from a since-settled lawsuit brought against her by one of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Giuffre.

Redacted versions of the transcripts of the depositions were released publicly earlier this year by a judge in response to requests by the Miami Herald.

In this courtroom sketch, Ghislaine Maxwell, far right, appears in Manhattan Federal court seated next to her attorney Bobbi C. Sternheim, second from left, along with her sister Isabel Maxwell, far left, during her arraignment on a superceding indictment,  April 23, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)

In arguing that the depositions be suppressed and unavailable for use at the criminal trial, Maxwell’s lawyers said their client had decided to answer questions during the depositions rather than invoke her privilege against compulsory self-incrimination because a court-approved agreement ensured evidence would stay confidential.

The lawyers noted that a judge cited the confidentiality promise in granting a request that Maxwell be forced to answer “highly intrusive questions” related to her own sexual activity and her knowledge of the sexual activity of others at the depositions.

Maxwell’s attorneys did not immediately respond Friday to a request for comment.

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