The judge presiding over the criminal sex abuse case against British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has declined a request by a defence lawyer to ban public comments by the government or lawyers for women who claim abuse.
US District Judge Alison J Nathan said in a written order that she expects anyone involved in the case against Jeffrey Epstein’s former girlfriend will exercise “great care” to comply with rules designed to ensure a fair trial, but she added that no further action was needed now to ensure compliance.
Judge Nathan said she “will not hesitate to take appropriate action” to protect a fair trial if circumstances change.
Maxwell lawyer Jeffrey Pagliuca this week said comments made publicly by a prosecutor, an FBI official and lawyers for accusers were prejudicial toward the British socialite.
The 58-year-old is in a Brooklyn federal jail, awaiting a July 2021 trial in Manhattan federal court, after she was arrested on July 2 at a New Hampshire estate.
Mr Pagliuca told the judge that prejudicial comments included an FBI official’s statement at a July 2 news conference that Maxwell was a villain who had “slithered away to a gorgeous property in New Hampshire”.
Last week, Judge Nathan rejected Maxwell’s bail request after prosecutors argued she was a high risk to flee because evidence against her was strong and she had access to millions of dollars and connections worldwide along with citizenship in the United States, the United Kingdom and France.
The request on Maxwell’s behalf was made on Tuesday, the same day that President Donald Trump twice wished her well as he acknowledged at a Washington news conference that he had met Maxwell “numerous times” when they both lived in Palm Beach, Florida.
She has pleaded not guilty to charges that she procured three teenage girls, including a 14-year-old, for Epstein to sexually abuse in the 1990s.
Epstein, 66, killed himself in a Manhattan federal jail last August as he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges.
Maxwell’s lawyers have said she “vigorously denies the charges, intends to fight them, and is entitled to the presumption of innocence”.
Epstein had a wide circle of friends including the Duke of York, President Trump and former US president Bill Clinton.
Prince Andrew, who denies any wrongdoing, has since been urged to provide information to the investigation by a US attorney.