World

Epstein associate Maxwell denied bail

By AAP Newswire

A US judge has denied bail for Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein's longtime associate charged with luring young girls so the late financier could sexually abuse them.

Maxwell earlier pleaded not guilty at a hearing in which women who accused her of enabling their abuse decried her "heinous" actions.

US District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan rejected Maxwell's bid for bail on Tuesday, agreeing with prosecutors that the wealthy socialite posed a flight risk.

Maxwell, the judge said during a hearing lasting more than two hours, has "demonstrated sophistication in hiding her resources and herself".

The judge set a trial date for July 12, 2021.

Prosecutors have accused Maxwell 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.

Maxwell, 58, 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.

Arrested on July 2, Maxwell has been charged with six criminal counts, including four related to transporting minors for illegal sexual acts and two for perjury.

Nathan said the evidence at this stage "appears strong" against Maxwell, and prosecutors have said she faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted.

Annie Farmer, who has accused Maxwell of enabling her abuse, said during the hearing that the defendant "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.

"Without Ghislaine, Jeffrey could not have done what he did," an unidentified accuser added in a statement.

This accuser said she knew Maxwell for more than 10 years and still felt threatened, adding, "if she is out, I need to be protected".

Maxwell's lawyers had sought a bail package including a $US5 million ($A7.2 million) bond and home confinement with electronic monitoring, but the judge was not convinced.

"No combination of conditions could reasonably assure her presence in court," Nathan said in ordering continued confinement.

Federal prosecutor Alison Moe had argued Maxwell was a flight risk.

"The defendant has the ability to live in hiding, she's good at it," Moe said, adding that Maxwell has demonstrated she can "live off the grid, indefinitely".

Maxwell, Epstein's former girlfriend and longtime associate, was arrested in Bradford, New Hampshire, where authorities said she was hiding out at a 63-hectare property she bought in December in an all-cash transaction with her identity shielded.

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 took his own life on August 10 at age 66 in a Manhattan jail.

Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein's most prominent accusers, said of Maxwell in a statement after the hearing, "the rest of her life should be spent behind bars".