Ghislaine Maxwell has requested to be moved from her New York prison cell amid claims that she is being watched by guards who do not appear to be “regular personnel” at the jail where she is being detained.
Lawyers for Ms Maxwell, 58, have written a motion to Judge Alison Nathan asking that their client be moved into the general prison population at the Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn.
Ms Maxwell’s legal team claim she has been subjected to multiple searches a day and is under constant surveillance by guards – despite being recently taken off suicide watch.
The lawyers say Ms Maxwell is being ”treated less favourably than a typical pretrial detainee” because of her status and the circumstances surrounding the death of her former associate, Jeffrey Epstein. Ms Maxwell is accused of grooming underage girls for Epstein.
A coroner ruled that Epstein died by suicide while awaiting trial for multiple sex crimes in 2019. But the investigation into the disgraced financier’s death revealed a host of alleged safeguarding failures by prison staff who were supposed to be monitoring him.
Ms Maxwell is charged with six counts in total: conspiracy to entice minors, and enticement of a minor, to travel to engage in illegal sex acts; conspiracy to transport minors, and transportation of a minor, with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and two of perjury.
She pleaded not guilty to all the charges and was denied bail at a pre-trial hearing in July.
In a letter submitted to Judge Nathan, Ms Maxwell’s lawyers claim that their client has been subjected to “uniquely onerous conditions”.
She “has been confined alone in an area outside of the general population [of inmates] for the entire 36 day period ... and there is no indication that this will change,” the letter adds.
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Ms Maxwell is continuously watched on CCTV by “multiple prison guards, many of whom do not appear to be regular [Metropolitan Detention Center] personnel. These prison guards observe Ms Maxwell and take notes on her every activity”.
Ms Maxwell had until recently been woken up every few hours in the middle of the night and “forced to wear special clothing” – a reference to the garments worn by prisoners who are deemed a suicide risk.
After almost a year on the run, Ms Maxwell was arrested at a New Hampshire mansion on 2 July.
She was then transferred to Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Centre on 6 July, and has been held in solitary confinement since then.
Reports have claimed that an entire floor of the prison has been emptied to accommodate Ms Maxwell while she awaits her trial, which has been scheduled for July 2021.