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Ghislaine Maxwell being kept in conditions ‘fitting for Hannibal Lecter,’ lawyers say

Ghislaine Maxwell
Ghislaine MaxwellLaura Cavanaugh/Photographer: Laura Cavanaugh/Ge

Lawyers for Ghislaine Maxwell, the wealthy socialite charged with sex trafficking and other crimes for her alleged role in deceased financier Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of minors between 1994 and 2004, on Thursday asked a federal appeals court in New York to release her on bail, writing in court papers that she’s being kept in conditions “fitting for Hannibal Lecter.”

The request from attorneys for Maxwell, 59, was filed with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. A lower court has repeatedly rejected her requests for bail.

“Though she is a model prisoner who poses no danger to society and has done literally nothing to prompt ‘special’ treatment, she is kept in isolation – conditions fitting for Hannibal Lecter but not a 59-year old woman who poses no threat to anyone,” her lawyers wrote, referring in the Lecter allusion to the cannibalistic killer psychiatrist played by Sir Anthony Hopkins in the 1991 film “The Silence of The Lambs.”

Maxwell, her lawyers wrote, “is subjected to multiple invasive searches every day. Her every movement is captured on multiple video cameras.”


The conditions of her confinement make it highly difficult for her to prepare for trial, her lawyers wrote.

The request from Maxwell’s legal team comes in the wake of a superseding indictment handed down Monday charging her with federal sex trafficking stemming from the alleged conspiracy with Epstein between 1994 and 2004. An indictment returned after Maxwell’s July arrest had limited the alleged crimes to a three-year period in the 1990s.

Monday’s indictment alleged that Maxwell groomed a girl to engage in sex acts with Epstein between 2001 and 2004 at his Palm Beach, Fla., mansion, beginning when the child was 14. The alleged grooming occurred in several ways, including by giving the teen lingerie and cash and by encouraging her to recruit other young females to provide “sexualized massages” to Epstein, according to the indictment.


It wasn’t immediately clear when Maxwell will enter a plea to the counts in the new indictment. She’s previously pleaded not guilty to charges alleging she helped Epstein sexually abuse underage girls between 1994 and 1997. She’s been held without bail since her July arrest in New Hampshire.

Her lawyers said in Thursday’s appellate filing that they expect her to be cleared at trial, which is currently slated for July in federal court in New York.

“She is innocent unless and until she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt – an event which is highly unlikely given the lack of evidence against her,” said Maxwell’s lawyers in Thursday’s filing.

Prosecutors tell a different story.

“Maxwell’s presence as an adult woman helped put the victims at ease as Maxwell and Epstein intended,’' said then-Acting US Attorney Audrey Strauss during a July news conference following Maxwell’s arrest. “This grooming process left the minor victims susceptible to sexual abuse.”

The case against Maxwell has generated international headlines in light of her association with Epstein, who counted US presidents, British royalty, stars of academia, and Hollywood luminaries among his friends.

Epstein died in federal custody in 2019 while awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges. His death was ruled a suicide.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.