Ghislaine Maxwell, the alleged accomplice of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, made her first in-person court appearance this week.
According to reports, she entered a plea of not guilty to the two latest criminal charges against her.
Background on criminal charges
Maxwell is accused of sex trafficking as part of conduct that allegedly occurred between 2001 and 2004.
Prosecutors argue that she brought a 14-year-old girl to Epstein’s home in Palm Beach, Florida, in order for the late financier to abuse her.
This period is being viewed separately from the 1994-1997 timeframe during which Maxwell is also accused of committing similar crimes with Epstein.
During the earlier period, she allegedly groomed and abused young girls. She is also charged with lying during her testimony in depositions during a defamation case involving one of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Giuffre.
Maxwell and her defense team attempted to have the charges dismissed, arguing that a plea deal Epstein reached with prosecutors in 2007 shielded any potential co-conspirators. She also claimed that the statute of limitations protected her from prosecution.
“This presents a significant risk”
Although U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan dismissed both motions, she did grant a request to allow Maxwell to face two separate trials. One trial will focus on allegations of grooming and abuse while the other will hinge on charges related to lying during the deposition.
“In particular, a joint trial would potentially expose the jury to a wider swath of information regarding civil litigation against Epstein that is remote from Maxwell’s charged conduct,” the judge determined. “This presents a significant risk that the jury will cumulate the evidence of the various crimes charged and find guilt when, if considered separately, it would not do so.”
As Fox News reported, Maxwell is facing eight charges in total, including “conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts; enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts; conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity; transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity; sex trafficking conspiracy and sex trafficking of a minor, both of which are new; and two counts of perjury.”
If convicted, she could face up to 40 years in prison.
Although Maxwell’s trial is expected to start in July, Nathan said this week that she is considering a delay. For now, she instructed lawyers in the case to expect it to begin on time.