US: Maxwell lawyers say conditions in jail 'uniquely onerous'

Maxwell, accused accomplice of Jeffery Epstein, claims she is being held alone and constantly checked in detention.

Lawyers for Ghislaine Maxwell, the accused accomplice in Jeffery Epstein’s child sex trafficking, claimed on Monday that she is being subjected to 24-hour surveillance and body scans while in pretrial detention in a New York correctional facility, conditions they say are “uniquely onerous”. 

Epstein, a convicted sex offender, was found dead in the summer of 2019 in the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC), the same New York federal jail where Maxwell is detained. Epstein’s death was ruled a suicide. 

Maxwell, Epstein’s longtime confidant, has been at the MDC since early July, after she was apprehended on a large New Hampshire property which she reportedly bought with cash. 

Epstein had pleaded not guilty to charges of sex trafficking involving dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14, and faced up to 45 years in prison if convicted. 

The alleged offences took place at Epstein’s homes in Manhattan, New York and in Palm Beach, Florida between 2002 and 2005. Maxwell is accused of grooming the girls for abuse. She has denied the charges.

Epstein’s sudden death and connections to powerful people spawned conspiracy theories about whether he actually committed suicide. 

Maxwell’s lawyers have requested that the New York Bureau of Prisons (BOP) take her out of solitary confinement and release her into the general prison population.

“It has become apparent that the BOP’s treatment of Ms. Maxwell is a reaction to the circumstances surrounding the pretrial detention and death of Mr. Epstein”, lawyers said in court documents (PDF) filed on August 11

The filing claims Maxwell’s cell undergoes searches “multiple times a day” and she has been forced to undergo numerous body scans”.

“Maxwell is being treated worse than other similarly situated pretrial detainees, which significantly impacts her ability to prepare a defense and be ready for trial on the schedule set by the Court”, the filing continued. 

The New York BOP did not immediately respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment, but does not typically comment on the conditions in which detainees are placed. 

The filing also asks the judge to make public the identities of the three accusers in the case, so that Maxwell and her defence counsel can “investigate the charges against her” which “took place on unspecified dates roughly 25 years ago in multiple locations”.

Epstein’s alleged abuse in which Maxwell is accused of participating took place in New York, Florida, New Mexico, and the United Kingdon, according to the court filing. 

US District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan and the team responsible for Maxwell’s prosecution have yet to respond to the filing. 

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