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Ghislaine Maxwell Placed On Suicide Watch Ahead Of Sentencing, But Her Lawyer Says She’s Not Suicidal
Ghislaine Maxwell's attorney argued in a letter to federal court Saturday that her client is not suicidal and had been placed on suicide watch “without having conducted a psychological evaluation and without justification."
Ghislaine Maxwell has been placed on suicide watch ahead of her sentencing for sex trafficking, but her attorney has said she isn’t suicidal.
Maxwell—a longtime friend and former girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein—is slated to be sentenced Tuesday for five counts related to child sex abuse and sex trafficking.
Just days before the sentencing, her attorney Bobbi Sternheim said that the 60-year-old has been placed on suicide watch at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn “without having conducted a psychological evaluation and without justification,” according to a letter Sternheim wrote Saturday to federal court obtained by ABC News and Fox News.
“She is not permitted to possess and review legal documents and is not permitted paper or pen,” Sternheim wrote. “This has prevented her from preparing for sentencing.”
Sternheim argued in the letter that placing Maxwell on suicide watch has prohibited her from “reviewing legal material prior to sentencing,” and said she has been denied “sufficient time” to meet with her legal counsel and is sleep-deprived after the move.
She said if her client’s situation had not changed by Monday, she planned to formally request to delay the sentencing.
Sternheim also questioned why her client was placed on suicide watch, saying that on Saturday she was able to meet with Maxwell after a 97-minute delay at the facility.
“She is not suicidal,” she said.
She said that was the same conclusion an outside psychologist had reached.
"Ms. Maxwell was abruptly removed from general population and returned to solitary confinement, this time without any clothing, toothpaste, soap, legal papers, etc," Sternheim wrote in the letter. "She was provided a 'suicide smock' and is given a few sheets of toilet paper on request. This morning, a psychologist evaluated Ms. Maxwell and determined she is not suicidal."
United States attorney Damian Williams responded in his own message to the court on Sunday, writing that Maxwell had been placed on suicide watch after she had allegedly emailed the Bureau of Prisons Inspector General’s Office saying that she feared for her safety.
Yet, according to the U.S. Attorneys Office, when she was approached by the prison’s psychology staff, she refused to answer questions about the threat she had reported.
“While she claimed to the IG to be in fear for her safety, she refused to tell psychology staff what that fear is,” Williams wrote in his response, which was obtained by ABC News.
Maxwell had insisted to the psychology staff that she was not suicidal but the decision was made to remove her from the general population and place her on suicide watch after determining she had a “heightened risk of self-harm.”
"Here, the Warden and Chief Psychologist assessed that the defendant is at heightened risk of self-harm, particularly given her upcoming sentencing and sex offender status. As a result, they are not comfortable placing the defendant in the SHU (Special Housing Unit), but they also need to remove the defendant from general population to investigate the threat she reported to the IG," Williams said.
He went on to add that her “inconsistent accounts to the IG and to psychology staff” is what caused the chief psychologist to reach the assessment that she was at a risk of self-harm because “it appears she may be attempting to be transferred to a single cell where she can engage in self-harm.”
He added that Maxwell has a hard copy of all her legal documents and “is able to confer with defense counsel.”
Prosecutors said they do not see any reason to delay sentencing and said she is expected to remain on suicide watch until “she is no longer at heightened risk of self-harm.”
Epstein, Maxwell’s alleged co-conspirator and one-time love interest, took his own life in a Manhattan jail cell in August of 2019 while awaiting his own federal trial on sex trafficking allegations.
Maxwell was convicted in December of recruiting and grooming underage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse.
Federal prosecutors have requested she be sentenced to 30 to 55 years behind bars. They argued in a court filing last week that she “made the choice to sexually exploit numerous underage girls,” CNN reports.
Her attorneys have advocated for a much lower sentence of between 4.25 and 5.25 years in prison.