Financier Jeffrey Epstein’s ex-girlfriend claims she is being prosecuted on sex abuse charges because Epstein killed himself and prosecutors wanted a substitute, lawyers said in newly unsealed court papers.
British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers challenged the case brought against their client last July on multiple grounds in papers filed last week and unsealed on Thursday with some redactions.
“One does not need to engage in complex analysis to understand what has happened here: the government has sought to substitute our client for Jeffrey Epstein, even if it means stretching — and ultimately exceeding — the bounds of the law,” the lawyers wrote in the Manhattan federal court documents.
“The government’s sudden zeal to prosecute Ms Maxwell for alleged conduct with Epstein in the 1990s — conduct for which the government never even charged Epstein — follows a history that is both highly unusual and deeply troubling,” they added.
Maxwell, 59, is scheduled for a July trial on charges that she recruited three teenage girls from 1994 to 1997 for Epstein to sexually abuse. Prosecutors allege that Maxwell sometimes joined in.
The charges against Maxwell came exactly a year after Epstein was arrested on sex trafficking charges in Manhattan. He killed himself in a federal jail a month later.
Maxwell, who has citizenship in the US, the United Kingdom and France, has been held without bail after a judge rejected a 28.5 million dollar bail proposal on the grounds that she had not been fully forthcoming about her finances and other matters and that she remained a threat to flee.
As part of the bail proposal, Maxwell disclosed that she has set aside more than 7 million dollars to be spent on lawyers out of 22.5 million dollars in assets belonging to herself and her husband.
In documents released publicly last week and Thursday, Maxwell’s lawyers attacked the government’s case on multiple grounds, including that a grand jury seated in suburban Westchester County deprived her of non-white grand jurors who would otherwise have decided her fate.
They also said perjury charges stemming from her testimony in two depositions in 2016 in a since-settled civil case must be tossed out because the questions posed were ambiguous and the answers given were true.
Another of her unique challenges to the indictment pertained to a non-prosecution agreement Epstein signed with federal prosecutors in Florida a dozen years ago that spared him from charges as he pleaded guilty to a Florida state charge and served 13 months in prison.
Her lawyers say Epstein intended for the document to protect any alleged co-conspirators, including Maxwell.
“The government is bound by the agreement it negotiated and executed,” the lawyers wrote, adding that the wording of the document was “clear, explicit, and unambiguous”.
The lawyers alleged that attorneys representing plaintiffs in civil litigation against Maxwell in 2016 met with a supervisor in the Manhattan federal prosecutor’s office and pitched the idea that Maxwell could be charged criminally.
“The section chief appropriately declined,” the lawyers wrote.