Lawyers say Jeffrey Epstein suicide affects jail conditions

Ghislaine Maxwell on September 20, 2013 in New York City.

Laura Cavanaugh | Getty Images

Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite accused of abetting sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged abuse of underage girls, is being intensely watched in a New York City jail in an apparent effort to keep her from killing herself as Epstein did in another jail last year, her lawyers told a judge in a new court filing.

That scrutiny until recently included Maxwell, 58, being “subjected to suicide watch protocols.”

Those have included “being woken up every few hours during the night and being forced to wear special clothing” as she is kept alone in a special housing unit at the Metropolitan Detention Center, her lawyers wrote.

And “she continues to be surveilled 24 hours a day by security cameras and by multiple prison guards, many of whom do not appear to be regular MDC personnel,” the filing said.

“These prison guards constantly observe Ms. Maxwell and take notes on her every activity, including her phone conversations with defense counsel.”

And, “her cell is searched multiple times a day and she has been forced to undergo numerous body scans,” the lawyers wrote Manhattan federal Judge Alison Nathan.

The letter asks Nathan to order that Maxwell, who is being held without bail, be moved into the general inmate population at the Brooklyn, New York, jail “so that she can meaningfully participate in her defense.”

They also asked that she be given “significantly increased access to a computer terminal in order to review” evidence in the case.

The lawyers wrote that “Maxwell does not seek special treatment at the MDC; but she does ask that she not be specially disfavored in her treatment in detention, especially when it comes to preparing her defense to conduct that allegedly took place over 25 years ago.”

Maxwell was arrested last month on federal criminal charges that accuse her of recruiting and grooming several underage girls in the mid-1990s so that they could be sexually abused by the wealthy investor Epstein, sometimes with Maxwell’s participation.

Both she and Epstein for years had socialized with rich and powerful people, including former Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, and Britain’s Prince Andrew.

Maxwell’s lawyers, in their letter to Nathan, wrote that “Maxwell has been treated less favorably than a typical pretrial detainee, and this has impacted her ability to assist in her defense.”

“It has become apparent that the [Bureau of Prison’s] treatment of Ms. Maxwell is a reaction to the circumstances surrounding the pretrial detention and death of Mr. Epstein.”

Epstein died from suicide by hanging on Aug. 10, 2019, in the federal jail in Manhattan, where he was being held without bail on child sex trafficking charges.

Two guards at that jail have been criminally charged with trying to cover up their failure to monitor him and other inmates on the day of his death, which came weeks after he apparently attempted suicide in the same jail for the first time.

“As a result of what occurred with Mr. Epstein, Ms. 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,” Maxwell’s lawyers wrote the judge.

The lawyers said that unlike Epstein, Maxwell has never been suicidal or diagnosed with showing risk factors for suicide.

Trump recently said of Maxwell, “I wish her well.”

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