Judge won’t silence anyone in Epstein-related prosecution

NEW YORK (AP) — The judge presiding over the criminal sex abuse case against Jeffrey Epstein’s ex-girlfriend declined a request Thursday by a defense lawyer to ban public comments by the government or lawyers for women who claim abuse.

U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan said in a written order that she expects anyone involved in the case against Ghislaine Maxwell will exercise “great care” to comply with rules designed to ensure a fair trial, but she added that no further action was needed now to ensure compliance.

Nathan said she “will not hesitate to take appropriate action” to protect a fair trial if circumstances change.

Maxwell attorney Jeffrey Pagliuca this week said comments made publicly by a prosecutor, an FBI official and lawyers for accusers were prejudicial toward the British socialite. He did not immediately return a message seeking comment Thursday.

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Maxwell, 58, is in a Brooklyn federal jail, awaiting a July 2021 trial in Manhattan federal court. She was arrested on July 2 at a Bradford, New Hampshire, estate she purchased for $1 million late last year.

Pagliuca told the judge that prejudicial comments included an FBI official’s statement at a July 2 news conference that Maxwell was a villain who had “slithered away to a gorgeous property in New Hampshire.”

Last week, Nathan rejected Maxwell’s bail request after prosecutors argued she was a high risk to flee because evidence against her was strong and she had access to millions of dollars and connections worldwide along with citizenship in the United States, the United Kingdom and France.

She has pleaded not guilty to charges that she procured three teenage girls, including a 14-year-old, for Epstein to sexually abuse in the 1990s. Epstein, 66, killed himself in a Manhattan federal jail last August as he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges.

The request on Maxwell’s behalf was made Tuesday, the same day that President Donald Trump twice wished her well as he acknowledged at a Washington news conference that he’d met Maxwell “numerous times” when they both lived in Palm Beach, Florida.

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