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In a win for jailed socialite Ghilane Maxwell‘s legal defense team, a federal judge ruled last week that prosecutors must reveal the identities of the alleged co-conspirators they plan to name at her sex trafficking trial before it is set to begin in New York in November.
On Friday, Judge Allison Nathan declared in a three-page ruling that by Oct. 11, federal prosecutors must give the “identities of any unnamed co-conspirators” they plan to name at trial, which is scheduled to begin in a Manhattan courtroom on Nov. 29. Maxwell, the British socialite, has been accused of conspiring with the late financier Jeffrey Epstein, to sexually traffic several girls over decades.
Maxwell’s team had requested that prosecutors hand over the two names they indicated they plan to reveal in order to avoid an ambush in the courtroom. Last month, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Moe had entered a request to Nathan that those names be shielded before the trial, claiming that the revelation would endanger the two individuals that the government intends to name as her co-conspirators and put other ongoing investigations at risk.
Nathan rejected this claim, saying it does not outweigh Maxwell’s right to a fair trial and called prosecutors' reasoning "hollow and insufficient."
“The government provides no explanation for this purported harm and none is apparent to the court,” Nathan wrote in her ruling. “Thus, the court finds that this concern alone does not outweigh the risk of surprise to the defendant in this case or the need for the parties to litigate co-conspirator issues in advance of trial to ensure the absence of delay.”
Prosecutors have alleged in an indictment that Maxwell helped Epstein recruit, groom, and abuse girls as young as 14 years old and encouraged some to travel to Epstein’s homes, knowing this would lead to grooming for and subjection to sexual abuse.
Maxwell is currently being held without bail in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn while awaiting trial. Her attorneys have requested her release on bail on five separate occasions. All of their motions have been denied.
Maxwell is also facing separate perjury charges related to allegedly lying in a deposition in a civil case filed by Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre, who recently filed a federal civil lawsuit against British royal Prince Andrew alleging sexual assault when she was a minor while in the company of Maxwell and Epstein.
She has pleaded not guilty to the charges against her.
Epstein died in a Manhattan jail in August of 2019 while awaiting trial on his own charges.
Maxwell’s alleged role in his sex trafficking operation, and her connection to Epstein himself, is the focus of the docuseries “Epstein’s Shadow: Ghislaine Maxwell,” which is now streaming on Peacock.
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