Jeffrey Epstein’s former girlfriend has pleaded not guilty to charges she recruited girls and women for the financier to sexually abuse more than two decades ago.
British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell appeared in a video court hearing in Manhattan.
She was denied bail after she entered her not guilty pleas.
Maxwell, 58, has been held without bail since her July 2 arrest at her million-dollar New Hampshire estate, where prosecutors say she refused to open the door for FBI agents, who broke through to find that she had retreated to an interior room.
She was charged with recruiting at least three girls, one as young as 14, for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 1997.
An indictment alleged that she helped groom the victims to endure sexual abuse and was sometimes there when Epstein abused them.
It also alleged that she lied during a 2016 deposition in a civil case stemming from Epstein’s abuse of girls and women.
Epstein killed himself in August 2019, several weeks after he was confronted by two accusers at a bail hearing who insisted that he should remain in jail while awaiting sex trafficking charges that alleged he abused girls at his Manhattan and Florida mansions in the early 2000s.
In court papers, Maxwell’s lawyers argued that Epstein’s death left the media “wrongly trying to substitute her for Epstein — even though she’d had no contact with Epstein for more than a decade, had never been charged with a crime or been found liable in any civil litigation, and has always denied any allegations of claimed misconduct”.
Prosecutors had argued in court papers filed on Monday that Maxwell was a danger to flee the country if she was freed on five million US dollars bail, which her lawyers recommended.
“The defendant has not only the motive to flee, but the means to do so swiftly and effectively,” prosecutors wrote, citing her access to millions of dollars and the scant information about her finances provided by her lawyers.
Maxwell’s lawyers have said she “vigorously denies the charges, intends to fight them, and is entitled to the presumption of innocence.”
Epstein had a wide circle of friends including the Duke of York, Donald Trump and former US president Bill Clinton.
Andrew, who denies any wrongdoing, has since been urged to provide information to the investigation by a US attorney.
Laura Goldman, an investment banker who claims to have known Maxwell since she moved to the US, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme earlier this month her friend would “have to” go for a plea deal with prosecutors.
Asked if Maxwell would speak about the duke as part of the investigation, Ms Goldman said: “She has always told me she would never, ever say anything about him.
“I think she felt he was her friend and she was never going to say anything about him.
“She felt in the 90s when her father died that Prince Andrew was there for her.”
Maxwell is expected to go on trial in July 2021.