Appearing frail with graying hair after months behind bars, Ghislaine Maxwell pleaded not guilty today in her first in-person hearing since her arrest last year.
The British socialite was arraigned in a Manhattan courthouse on new sex trafficking charges added to an indictment three weeks ago. Her lawyer entered a not guilty plea Friday and a padlocked black sedan believed to be carrying Maxwell was seen driving to the Brooklyn prison.
‘Yes, your honor,’ and ‘I have, your honor’ were the only words Maxwell said when answering the judge before waiving to have the charges publicly read.
Today is the first time Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged madam appeared in person after nine months in what she described as ‘hell-hole’ Metropolitan Detention Center and her physical appearance showed.
Maxwell’s signature short black haircut was grown out long, showing off the gray at the roots as she appeared noticeably more frail than her last hearing in July.
But there was no sign of the hair loss her lawyers claimed she had experienced in prison and no sign of her husband Scott Borgerson who was anticipated to show up to support her.
Appearing frail with graying hair after months behind bars, Ghislaine Maxwell pleaded not guilty today in her first in-person hearing since her arrest last year. Her sister Isabel is seen sitting behind her wearing a beret in a court sketch
A padlocked black sedan with dark tinted windows believed to be carrying Maxwell was seen driving to the Brooklyn prison
Padlocks were seen on the dark Dodge Caravan that is believed to have driven Maxwell back to prison
Ghislaine Maxwell pleaded not guilty to new sex trafficking charges added to an indictment three weeks ago. Pictured: A courtroom sketch of Maxwell from today, April 23, 2021
Ghislaine Maxwell’s sister appeared at court wearing a black beret to support the accused sex trafficker. Maxwell did not appear to see her sister Isabel who was at the back of the court wearing dark glasses and a beret to disguise herself. She appeared extremely nervous and paced around
Maxwell was wearing a white mask and a blue prison issue top and trousers. Her feet were shackled together as she walked in and sat down between her lawyers with two US Marshals behind her.
She was mostly impassive and only when questioned by the judge.
Ghislaine Maxwell (right with her ex-boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein in 2005) is set to attend a New York court today in her first in-person hearing since her arrest last year
At the end of the brief hearing she waved at a blonde middle aged friend at the back of the court.
Maxwell did not appear to see her sister Isabel who was at the back of the court wearing dark glasses and a beret to disguise herself. She appeared extremely nervous and paced around.
There were only a few dozen people allowed into courtroom 24B of the Manhattan federal court due to Covid restrictions.
Among them were David Boies and Sigrid McCawley, lawyers who represent the second of four Maxwell accusers.
Maxwell’s legal team, Jeff Pagliuca, Laura Menninger and David Markus were seen arriving ahead of her arraignment.
The judge presiding said she is considering the defense’s request to move the trial to the fall or winter.
Maxwell was confronted in court by an Epstein victim, a blonde woman named Danielle Bensky who sat in the public gallery. Bensky arrived at the last minute to the hearing and craned her neck to see Maxwell.
Speaking outside court afterwards, Bensky said: ‘To be honest I was too afraid to come to the Epstien trial so this is a new feeling for me to sit there and accept a lot (of things). I do think it’s hard to sit through it (the hearing) and it’s painful, but it’s good too, it’s healing.’
She added: ‘After not having a trial for Epstein this will provide closure for the victims.’
David Boies, who represents the second accuser against Maxwell, ridiculed her media blitz which has made her out to be a victim of mistreatment by the federal authorities.
He said: ‘I don’t believe there is any credible basis whatsoever to assert Ms. Maxwell is the victim. The media blitz the defendant is putting out, I don’t believe it’s fair to the real victims. I think it’s highly undesirable’.
Boies said his clients were feeling ‘good’ and ‘looking forward to the vindication of the trial’.
He said: ‘This is a time of great stress for them, but also a time of great hope’.
Maxwell was confronted in court by an Epstein victim, a blonde woman named Danielle Bensky who sat in the public gallery. Bensky arrived at the last minute to the hearing and craned her neck to see Maxwell
Speaking outside court afterwards, Bensky said: ‘To be honest I was too afraid to come to the Epstein trial so this is a new feeling for me to sit there and accept a lot (of things). I do think it’s hard to sit through it (the hearing) and it’s painful, but it’s good too, it’s healing’
There were only a few dozen people allowed into courtroom 24B of the Manhattan federal court due to Covid restrictions. Among them were David Boies and Sigrid McCawley (pictured), lawyers who represent the second of four Maxwell accusers
Maxwell’s lawyer David Markus said that her two brothers had tried to come to court from the UK for the hearing but were unable to due to Covid restrictions
Jeff Pagliuca and Laura Menninger, legal team for Ghislaine Maxwell, arrive ahead of her arraignment on new indictment Friday
Maxwell’s lawyer David Markus said that her two brothers had tried to come to court from the UK for the hearing but were unable to due to Covid restrictions.
Maxwell’s husband Scott Borgerson did not appear in court Friday to support her
He said: ‘Ghislaine is in very, very difficult conditions none of us would wish on our worst enemy. She’s staying strong, she’s getting ready for trial. Ghislaine is looking forward to that trial and she’s looking forward to fighting, and she will fight’.
Markus added that he went to see Maxwell last night in prison and three guards followed him to a small room.
He said: ‘I’ve never seen anything like how she’s being treated. She shouldn’t be treated like this’.
Markus declined to comment when asked why Scott Borgerson, Maxwell’s husband, was not in court.
Maxwell’s right arm looked thin and knobbly as she sat down in court at a table next to one of her five lawyers.
Her sister Isabel tried to to avoid being identified in court by whispering her name to a court officer so that journalists would not hear her.
Judge Alison Nathan asked Maxwell if she had received the updated indictment. Speaking in her British accent, Maxwell replied: ‘Yes your honor’.
Judge Nathan asked if Maxwell had read it and she replied: ‘I have your honor’.
Judge Nathan asked Maxwell if she would like to waive the public reading of the indictment and she confirmed that she would.
Maxwell’s lawyer Bobbi Sternheim told Judge Nathan she wanted to plead not guilty.
Judge Nathan said that while she was still deciding if the case should be put back from its July start date to next January, ‘everyone should assume’ it is going ahead this summer for the time being.
Maxwell sister Isabel tried to to avoid being identified in court by whispering her name to a court officer so that journalists would not hear her
Ghislaine Maxwell, 59, in June 2019 (pictured front) with her six living siblings. Her sister Isabel appeared in court today. The siblings, L-R, are: Anne, 73, Kevin, 62, twins Isabel and Christine, 70, Philip, 71, and Ian, 64
Pictured is Maxwell’s lawyers Bobbi C Sternheim leaving court
Attorney Bobbi Sternheim appears in court during the arraignment hearing in a court sketch
Her lawyers have previously said she was demanding to be arraigned on the new allegations in person after the dial-in phone line on a previous hearing was hijacked by QAnon conspiracy theorists.
Her lawyers failed three times to convince Judge Nathan to release Maxwell on bail after they claimed their client is living in poor prison conditions and has lost weight.
She had requested a week’s delay to April 23 to formally plead to two additional charges at federal court in New York
A document filed by her lawyers states that this was to enable her ‘family members to adjust their schedules and make travel arrangements to attend the court proceedings’.
But Maxwell’s alleged victims pleaded with a federal court not to delay her trial because they are suffering from an ‘enormous amount of stress’.
Prosecutors said that two women who will give evidence against Maxwell will not be able to rest until the case is heard.
One is feeling ‘significant stress’ while the other is feeling an ‘enormous amount of stress’ and intends to give evidence in person despite her personal obligations at the time.
They wrote: ‘The longer this case remains pending, the longer the victims suffer the anxiety of anticipating their trial testimony and the uncertainty of awaiting a resolution.
Protesters hold a banner outside Manhattan Federal Court ahead of Ghislaine Maxwell’s arraignment
Protestors stand outside the federal court house ahead of the federal court house
‘As a result, multiple victims oppose any adjournment of the trial date. In particular, Minor Victim-3 expressed feeling significant stress during the pendency of this case and a strong desire to have the case brought to a close through trial as soon as possible.
‘Similarly, Minor Victim-2 also indicated that she has experienced an enormous amount of stress while this case has been pending, wishes to see the case brought to trial as scheduled, and has already planned to be available to testify at trial as scheduled this summer, despite her
Judge Alison Nathan is presiding over Maxwell’s case
Sources close to Maxwell’s family told The Telegraph that her appearance in court today is about Maxwell wanting to ‘face her accusers head on’, as well as being free from her prison cell for a while.
A rewritten indictment lodged against the 59-year-old British socialite last month added sex trafficking charges to allegations that Maxwell recruited three teenage girls from 1994 to 1997 for then-boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse.
New charges involving the sex trafficking of a minor stretched the conspiracy to 2004.
According to the new indictment, the woman was sexually abused multiple times by Epstein between 2001 and 2004 at his Palm Beach, Florida, residence, beginning when she was 14 years old.
Maxwell’s lawyers have claimed that she had lost weight and her hair was falling out because of her poor treatment while in custody.
They alleged she is becoming a ‘shell of her former self’ because she is being woken up every 15 minutes with a a flash light.
Her lawyers claimed the conditions were more fitting for Hannibal Lecter, the fictional serial killer from the movie The Silence of the Lambs.
Her husband Scott Borgerson was anticipated to travel 250 miles from his home just outside Boston to show his support but did not make it.
Her brother Ian, who launched a public PR campaign to have Maxwell freed from custody after she was denied her bail three times, is not able to travel from the UK due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Maxwell’s trial is set for July 12 on charges alleging she recruited and groomed teenage girls from 1994 to 2004 to provide sexual massages to her one-time boyfriend.
Last week, her lawyers requested that the trial be delayed until next January, saying the new charges require months of investigation.
Judge Nathan has said the perjury matters will be tried separately but Maxwell wants a delay on the main allegations too.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Maurene Comey, left, daughter of former FBI Director James Comey, spoke in court Friday. She seen during a news conference, in New York, Monday, July 8, 2019 as federal prosecutors announced charges against Epstein
Ghislaine Maxwell, far right, is pictured with Prince Andrew and accuser Virginia Roberts in her townhouse in London. Roberts has filed a criminal lawsuit claiming that she had under-aged sex with Prince Andrew and pedophile Epstein
Maxwell has pleaded not guilty. Epstein killed himself in 2019 in a Manhattan federal lockup as he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges.
Due to the coronavirus most hearings in the Southern District of New York are taking place via Zoom or through a dial-in phone line.
The dial-in phone line on a previous hearing was hijacked by QAnon conspiracy theorists, leading to Maxwell’s lawyers to say their client is demanding to be arraigned on the new allegations in person.
All 500 spots on the public phone line in the separate civil case were occupied and one person live streamed the hearing on YouTube until the judge told them to stop.
Maxwell’s lawyer Bobbi Sternheim called that hearing a ‘debacle’ and said that Maxwell is demanding a bail hearing where witnesses can testify regarding the ‘purported strength of the government’s case’.
As they have repeatedly argued before, lawyers for Maxwell wrote that she is being punished in part because Epstein is out of reach.
‘She is no monster, but she is being treated like one because of the `Epstein effect,´’ they wrote.
The lawyers urged the 2nd Circuit to ‘test the actual strength’ of the government case by insisting on a more thorough bail hearing where they could prove that each story told by the four people who say they were victims of Epstein and Maxwell ‘has dramatically changed over the years.’
‘At first, none of the anonymous accusers even mentioned Ms. Maxwell. As they hired the same law firm, sought money and fame, joined a movement, and only after Epstein died, did the accusers start to point the finger at Ms. Maxwell. Far from corroboration, this is fabrication,’ they wrote.
A spokesperson for prosecutors declined comment.
The launch of the webpage is a notable shift in tone by the famously tight-lipped family, who appear to be trying to salvage Maxwell’s reputation ahead of her trial in July
Today was the first time she will appear in person after nine months in Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center – and the extent of how this has affected Maxwell’s appearance
Earlier this month, the judge rejected Maxwell´s arguments to toss charges that she recruited three teenager girls from 1994 to 1997 for then-boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse.
Judge Nathan denied claims that a non-prosecution agreement Epstein reached with federal prosecutors over a dozen years ago protects Maxwell from prosecution.
She also disagreed that some or all charges should be tossed out for a variety of other perceived flaws.
Maxwell has been in jail since her arrest on July 2 in Bradford, New Hampshire at her $1 million country home.
She is accused of enticing girls as young as 14 for Epstein to abuse and in some cases taking part in the abuse.
Maxwell, the daughter of disgraced newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell, also perjured herself in a civil case.
She denies all the allegations.
Earlier this month, Maxwell’s family has launched a website in support of the British socialite, insisting she’s ‘no monster’ and protesting her innocence.
The site, realghislaine.com, invites people to ‘get to know the real Ghislaine’ on the website, where they shared biographical details, information about her upcoming trial, jail conditions, as well as the books she is reading behind bars.
‘This website has been developed and is maintained by brothers, sisters, family & friends of Ghislaine Maxwell, the people who have known the real Ghislaine all her life, not the fictional one-dimensional character created by the media,’ it states.
‘We believe wholeheartedly in our beloved sister’s innocence and encourage visitors to this site to sign up for updates from the family on her case by providing your e-mail address below in the strictest of confidence.’