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Ghislaine Maxwell, charged with luring girls for Jeffrey Epstein, pleads not guilty

Ghislaine Maxwell tried to hide when FBI agents arrived to arrest her, court documents allege
WATCH: Ghislaine Maxwell tried to hide when FBI agents arrived to arrest her, court documents allege

NEW YORK — Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime associate charged with luring young girls so the late financier could sexually abuse them, pleaded not guilty in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday at a hearing in which women who accused her of enabling their abuse gave statements denouncing her “heinous” crimes.

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan presided over the arraignment and bail hearing for Maxwell, who prosecutors have accused of helping Epstein recruit and eventually abuse girls as young as 14 from 1994 to 1997 and lying about her role in depositions in 2016. The judge was expected to rule on whether to grant bail.

Nathan also scheduled a trial date for July 12, 2021.

Read more: Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell arrested by FBI

Maxwell, 58 was charged with six criminal counts, including four related to transporting minors for illegal sexual acts and two for perjury. Prosecutors argued at the hearing against Maxwell’s bid for bail, describing her as an extreme flight risk.

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“Not guilty, your honor,” Maxwell said, after the judge asked her how she wished to plead to the charges.

Maxwell appeared by video from the Brooklyn jail where she is being held. She appeared tired, with her hair pulled back and was wearing a brown T-shirt and tortoiseshell glasses.

Alison Moe, a federal prosecutor, said the government’s investigation is ongoing, but did not currently anticipate seeking an amended indictment expanding the charges against Maxwell.

Jeffrey Epstein scandal: What’s the case so far against Ghislaine Maxwell?
Jeffrey Epstein scandal: What’s the case so far against Ghislaine Maxwell?

Annie Farmer, who has accused the defendant of enabling her abuse, said Maxwell “has never shown any remorse for her heinous crimes” and told the court “the danger Maxwell poses must be taken seriously.”

“She is a sexual predator who groomed and abused me and countless other children and young women,” Farmer told the court.

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“Without Ghislaine, Jeffrey could not have done what he did,” an unidentified accuser said in a statement.

This accuser’s statement said she knew Maxwell for more than 10 years and still felt threatened, adding, “If she is out, I need to be protected.”

Prosecutors urged detention because they said Maxwell is a flight risk.

“The defendant has the ability to live in hiding, she’s good at it,” and Moe said has demonstrated she can “live off the grid, indefinitely.” Moe noted that it took a year after Epstein’s arrest to find her.

Read more: Clothes, bedsheets taken away from Ghislaine Maxwell due to suicide concerns, official says

The wealthy socialite’s lawyers sought a bail package including a $5 million bond and home confinement with electronic monitoring.

Prosecutors said her wealth and multiple citizenships – American, French and British – also supported the need for detention.

Maxwell, Epstein’s former girlfriend and longtime associate, was arrested on July 2 in Bradford, New Hampshire, where authorities said she was hiding out at a 156-acre (63 hectares) property she bought in December in an all-cash transaction with her identity shielded. Maxwell has been held since July 6 at the Metropolitan Detention Center, a Brooklyn jail.

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FBI provides details of Ghislaine Maxwell’s arrest in New Hampshire
FBI provides details of Ghislaine Maxwell’s arrest in New Hampshire

Epstein was charged in July 2019 with sexually exploiting dozens of girls and women from 2002 to 2005 at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida. He hanged himself on Aug. 10 at age 66 in a Manhattan jail.

Prosecutors accused Maxwell of luring girls as young as 14 by asking them about their lives, schools and families and taking them shopping or to movies – acts, they said, that served as “the prequel” to Epstein’s abuse. Epstein has been linked socially to several powerful figures including President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton and Britain’s Prince Andrew.

Prosecutors said on Monday that when FBI agents went to arrest Maxwell, they had to forcibly enter her home, where she hid in an interior room, and found a cellphone wrapped in tin foil in an apparent effort to evade detection.

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Maxwell also used former British military personnel to guard her in New Hampshire, prosecutors said.

—Reporting by Jonathan Stempel, Karen Freifeld and Brendan Pierson in New York; writing by Tom Hals; editing by Noeleen Walder and Will Dunham