Federal prosecutors in Manhattan’s Southern District have asked a judge to issue a protective order on discovery materials connected to Thursday’s arrest of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell as the accused sex trafficker prepares for her next court appearance, slated for July 10. Those materials could identify other targets of the ongoing sex trafficking probe connected to disgraced billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.
A letter from Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss—cosigned by three assistant DAs on the case, including James Comey’s daughter Maurene Comey—says, “Such a protective order will be necessary to facilitate the production of discovery while also protecting, among other things, the privacy and identity of third parties, including victims of the conduct charged in the Indictment.”
Maxwell, 58, was arrested in a dramatic raid Thursday morning at her $1 million Bradford, New Hampshire, hideout, where Assistant Director of the New York FBI William Sweeney says “she slithered away…and continued to live a life of privilege.” As FBI surveillance planes flew over the 156-acre mountain estate, two dozen heavily armed agents and NYPD detectives assigned to a joint task force for crimes against children swarmed the remote retreat Maxwell paid cash for in December, using a carefully constructed trust to hide the purchase.
The pixie-haired heiress was arrested wearing sweatpants and a white T-shirt, two sources with direct knowledge of the raid told Los Angeles magazine.
The FBI had been tracking her movements, Sweeney now says, since July 2019 when Epstein, 61, a convicted pedophile whom she once dated, was arrested on federal sex crime charges. Epstein was found dead in his jail cell a month later, and while the Bureau of Prisons has called it suicide, Epstein’s family and others dispute that ruling. Surveillance footage from his cell was reportedly lost due to a camera malfunction.
After she was taken into custody last week, Maxwell, 58, was hit with a six-count indictment on federal charges related to “the sexual exploitation and abuse of multiple minor girls by Jeffrey Epstein,” said Strauss, who replaced Geoffrey Berman, Trump’s hand-picked prosecutor who was inexplicably pushed out of office in recent weeks. President Trump is one of multiple powerful elites connected to Epstein, along with Prince Andrew, former President Bill Clinton, and Epstein lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who negotiated a controversial plea deal with former Miami U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta that essentially squashed a 53-count pending federal indictment in that state.
Yesterday Dershowitz, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by at least one Epstein victim, sent out a bizarre tweet where he waived “any right of privacy,” if, in fact, “Epstein made secret videos of all the men who had sex in his houses and planes.”
I hope Epstein made videos
There have been suggestions that Epstein made secret videos of all the men who had sex in his houses and planes. I hope he did and they are all revealed, because they will prove I am not among them. I hereby waive any right of privacy in Epstein videos.
— Alan Dershowitz (@AlanDersh) July 5, 2020
Maurene Comey being among the federal prosecutors on the case has raised eyebrows among NYPD detectives assigned to the task force. One detective close to the case told Los Angeles that appointing Comey, an Assistant U.S. Attorney with no experience in human trafficking cases and one with close ties to a bureau that’s come under fire for the handling of the Epstein case in Florida, has an air of “impropriety.” Comey was hired by the Southern District as a clerk in 2014, and became a prosecutor in 2015, an unusually short amount of time to be assigned one of the most high-profile investigations in the country.
Maxwell is expected to be transported by U.S. Marshals this week after spending the weekend in a New Hampshire lockup.
Strauss said the indictment against Maxwell includes “almost unspeakable” crimes committed against girls as young as 14. “Maxwell assisted, facilitated and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein to recruit, groom and ultimately abuse victims.” Maxwell, prosecutors said, “would try to normalize the abuse for a minor victim.”
Prosecutors say Maxwell poses “an extreme risk of flight,” and point out in a detention memo that “Maxwell has three passports, large sums of money, extensive international connections, and absolutely no reason to stay in the United States and face the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence.”
In addition to the decade behind bars she’s facing, Maxwell has been named in 15 civil suits filed by Epstein victims. Until last week, Maxwell sightings were scarce. She had been spotted hiding in an oceanfront mansion in the tony Massachusetts town of Manchester-by-the-Sea owned by her reputed love interest, tech CEO Scott Borgerson who told the Boston Globe, “My private life is my private life.”
For nearly a year a joint NYPD-FBI task force has built its case against Epstein’s purported madam using the Mann Act, which targets sex traffickers. Investigators have subpoenaed former Epstein pilots and raided his island home, working to prove allegations that between 1994 and 1997, Maxwell and Epstein—and possibly others—abused young girls at his Upper East Side townhouse, his Palm Beach, Florida estate, his ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and at Maxwell’s home in London.
Maxwell is now also charged with perjury for allegedly lying about her alleged role in Epstein’s perversions and her own alleged abuse of underage girls in a deposition as part of a 2016 civil litigation. Asked if Epstein had a “scheme to recruit underage girls for sexual massages,” Maxwell responded: “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” according to the indictment.
Maxwell also denied interacting with anyone under the age of 17 at Epstein’s properties or her own and said she wasn’t aware that Epstein had a substantial collection of sex toys at his properties.
Last week Strauss told reporters investigators have requested an interview with Prince Andrew, one of several high-profile Epstein affiliates who have been logged on his private plane logs.
The investigation into other potential abusers continues, Strauss said last week.
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