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Ghislaine Maxwell complains about 'uniquely onerous' conditions behind bars

NBC News logo NBC News 8/11/2020 Tom Winter and Rich Schapiro
Ghislaine Maxwell et al. sitting on a bench posing for the camera © Provided by NBC News

Ghislaine Maxwell is being held under “uniquely onerous conditions” inside a New York federal jail, where she’s subjected to round-the-clock surveillance and numerous body scans, her lawyers argued in a new court filing.

Maxwell has been locked up at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn since early July on charges of recruiting and grooming girls as young as 14 for the late financier Jeffrey Epstein to abuse.

Epstein died by suicide last summer while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, and Maxwell’s lawyers say the Bureau of Prisons is treating her worse than other inmates as a result.

“It has become apparent that the BOP’s treatment of Ms. Maxwell is a reaction to the circumstances surrounding the pretrial detention and death of Mr. Epstein,” the Monday night court filing said.

Maxwell wants to be removed from solitary confinement and placed into the jail’s general population so she can prepare for her upcoming trial, the filing says.

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Maxwell’s lawyers say she’s under surveillance 24 hours a day “by security cameras and by multiple prison guards, many of whom do not appear to be regular MDC personnel.”

“These prison guards constantly observe Ms. Maxwell and take notes on her every activity, including her phone conversations with defense counsel,” the filing says.

Her cell is searched multiple times a day and she has been forced to undergo numerous body scans, according to her lawyers.

She was only recently taken off suicide watch, in which she was awoken every few hours during the night and forced to wear special clothing, her lawyers said.

“Ms. Maxwell does not seek special treatment at the MDC; but she does ask that she not be specially disfavored in her treatment in detention, especially when it comes to preparing her defense to conduct that allegedly took place over 25 years ago,” the filing says.

The Bureau of Prisons declined to comment on the court filing.

"For privacy, safety, and security reasons, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) does not release information on an individual inmate's conditions of confinement," a spokesman said.

Maxwell, a longtime Epstein confidant, was arrested July 2 at a remote New Hampshire mansion. Prosecutors say she helped the disgraced financier sexually abuse young girls in the mid-1990s and participated in some of the abuse herself. She has pleaded not guilty.

In the same court filing, Maxwell’s lawyers asked the judge to force the government to disclose the identities of the three alleged victims referred to in the indictment.

“So that Ms. Maxwell and defense counsel can meaningfully investigate the alleged conduct, which is now over 25 years old,” the filing says.

The filing goes on to note that the alleged misconduct took place in multiple locations — including New York, Florida, New Mexico and the U.K. — and that Epstein was accused of sexually abusing dozens, if not hundreds, of alleged victims.

“The defense should not have to speculate which of these individuals are Victims 1-3 referenced in the indictment,” the filing says.

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