A much-anticipated batch of newly unsealed documents from a settled defamation suit began trickling out Thursday night over the objections of Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite accused of sex trafficking and alleged to be the madam of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.
One of the first documents involved an email from Epstein to Maxwell complaining that the news media had been printing lies about him since the plea deal in Palm Beach court that spared him a federal prison sentence. More documents were expected to emerge throughout the evening.
Maxwell, awaiting trial in a federal prosecution, had delayed the planned release of the documents from a 2015 civil suit by filing objections at the last minute, provoking the ire of U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska.
That irritated the judge, who ruled last week that the documents should be unsealed.
“The Court is troubled — but not surprised — that Ms. Maxwell has yet again sought to muddy the water as the clock clicks closer to midnight,” Preska wrote in a filing denying a request from Maxwell’s lawyers for an emergency phone conference.
The judge had allowed two key depositions to be exempt from release while Maxwell filed an appeal Thursday with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. But Preska ordered a second large tranche of documents from the case settled in 2017 unsealed and released Thursday night.
Last August, the court unsealed nearly 2,000 documents in the defamation suit involving Virginia Giuffre, who alleges Maxwell recruited her and others who were underage for sex with Epstein and powerful men. The documents provided a detailed picture of Maxwell’s alleged obsessive quest to procure girls to satisfy Epstein’s insatiable sexual appetite.
The earlier documents also are included the names of a number of men who Giuffre said she and other victims were directed to have sex with, including former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Hyatt hotels magnate Tom Pritzker, the late scientist Marvin Minsky, modeling scout Jean-Luc Brunel, and prominent hedge fund manager Glenn Dubin.
Giuffre has said she was directed to have sex with prominent defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, who previously represented Epstein, as well as Prince Andrew. A picture of Giuffre, Maxwell and Prince Andrew has been seared into the public consciousness. All the men have denied the claims and Giuffre and Dershowitz are suing each other for defamation.
All have denied Giuffre’s allegations.
Maxwell was arrested on July 2 at a secluded 156-acre estate in New Hampshire that had been purchased in December in all cash through a shell company. She was charged with four counts of sex trafficking of a minor and two counts of perjury, related to statements she made in connection with the Giuffre lawsuit.
Her lawyers have argued that the perjury charges come from protected depositions in the civil lawsuit, but they have not provided proof that they were shared and not the product of a subpoena.
The criminal sex trafficking charges stemmed from Maxwell’s alleged recruitment and grooming of three girls between 1994 and 1997 to be abused by Epstein. In one case, Maxwell allegedly participated in the abuse herself.
“Maxwell’s presence as an adult woman helped put the victims at ease as Maxwell and Epstein intended,” said Audrey Strauss, the acting U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, in announcing the charges against Maxwell at a news conference in early July.
The charges against Maxwell came almost one year after federal prosecutors in New York had brought new charges against Epstein, driven in part by the Miami Herald’s Perversion of Justice series, which detailed Epstein’s lenient sentence for sex charges a decade earlier.
In the wake of the charges, then-U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, who had been the U.S. Attorney for Southern Florida that signed off on Epstein’s lenient sentence more than a decade earlier, resigned from the Trump administration.
Maxwell has been accused by Epstein’s victims of recruiting them for sexual exploitation by Epstein when they were girls, sometimes participating in sex acts along with the multimillionaire.
“Without Ghislaine, Jeffrey could not have done what she did,” one of the three alleged victims said in a statement at Maxwell’s arraignment. “She was a predator and a monster.”
Maxwell’s lawyers argued that federal prosecutors had obtained Maxwell’s deposition from the Giuffre lawsuit in violation of a protective order barring it, and other confidential materials from the case, from being shared. They suggested that Giuffre’s legal team was responsible for sharing the material, but offered no evidence to support the claim.
Legal woes are catching up with Maxwell on numerous fronts. The attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands is pursuing a civil enforcement action against the estate of Epstein, who died last Aug. 11 in a Manhattan jail, alleging the estate was an ongoing criminal enterprise that defrauded the islands of tax money.
Maxwell has filed a claim against the estate, seeking to have it reimburse her for her legal defense and the costs of hiding and security in the year after Epstein’s death. It is widely believed that any serious look at Epstein’s business would ensnare his longtime associate Maxwell.
A victims compensation fund has recently started operating to help Epstein victims quietly achieve settlements out of court, even as Giuffre and other women seek legal remedies too.
The source of Maxwell’s wealth is coming under scrutiny. Prosecutors said he had large sums of unexplained wealth. and the cash purchase of the mansion where she was arrested was notable.
Federal prosecutors say that Maxwell toured the property under the pseudonym Jen Marshall, saying she was a journalist looking for privacy, and her name didn’t appear on any of the documents connected to the sale, according to someone with knowledge of the transaction.
The Maxwell case also figures in national politics. Not only was she friends with Bill Clinton, but President Donald Trump created a stir earlier this month when from a White House podium he responded to a question about Maxwell by saying, “I wish her well.”
Giuffre alleges she was recruited by Maxwell in 2000 at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club, where Giuffre was working as a spa assistant. Giuffre was around 17 at the time and she said she was sexually abused by Epstein and several of Epstein and Maxwell’s powerful friends over the next several years. She did not allege abuse by Trump or at Mar-a-Lago.