Ghislaine Maxwell has won one skirmish in her defense against federal criminal charges. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals granted Maxwell’s request to keep her deposition from another case sealed, at least until it considers the matter in a full hearing at the end of September. The Court will then consider whether releasing her civil deposition will so prejudice her criminal case, that they should keep it sealed. New media personality Mike Cernovich is suing for access to it, along with The Miami Herald, which pioneered reporting on Jeffrey Epstein. Documents from the same case released last week show Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre saw Bill Clinton at Epstein properties, but not Donald Trump.
When at First We Practice to Deceive
While Ghislaine Maxwell waits in federal jail on a criminal case, the media is focused more on the videotaped deposition she gave in a 2015 civil case. One of Epstein’s main accusers, Virginia Giuffre, sued Maxwell for defamation. Maxwell called Giuffre a liar over the allegations, prompting Giuffre to declare that Maxwell’s statements were themselves lies and that Maxwell should pay damages for calling her claims false. That case was settled out of court. Some papers from the case were released last week, while others were kept under seal, including Maxwell’s deposition. It became the basis for some of the criminal charges against her.
Maxwell was charged in July with four counts of sex trafficking of a minor – crimes alleged to have occurred between 1994 and 1997. She was also charged with two counts of perjury related to statements she made in the deposition from Giuffre’s case. That 2016 deposition was made in civil court, where Maxwell was forced to answer questions about her activities, and what she witnessed Epstein do. Defendants in civil courts are forced to answer questions, or they may lose their case. This is in direct contravention to the rules of criminal court, where protections against self-incrimination bar compelled testimony from defendants.
Ms. Maxwell says if the deposition is released, she will be less likely to obtain a fair trial. That is almost certainly true, but it may not be enough to keep the deposition sealed.
Eyes on the Prize
This 2016 deposition is quite simply of incalculable value from a media perspective. It features Ms. Maxwell discussing her sex life, her life with Mr. Epstein, as well as what she knew about him sexually. That’s just for starters – there may be more stories about famous people like Bill Clinton, Alan Dershowitz, and Prince Andrew, for instance. You can imagine how much audience interest across media platforms these details would bring.
The published documents already released have provided an avalanche of press attention – attention her lawyers say leaves Maxwell less likely to get a fair trial. They claim that unsealing would “inappropriately influence potential witnesses or alleged victims,” but were denied a request for a seal by the District Court judge. That judge stayed her own ruling, however, to give time for Maxwell to appeal. The appeal was granted, at least until the Second Circuit Court of Appeals considers the case, with arguments set for Sept. 22.
In an email that was released from the civil trial, Jeffrey Epstein told Ghislaine Maxwell:
“You have done nothing wrong, and i woudl [sic] urge you to start acting like it.”
It was one of the more interesting pieces released from the civil trial. Another was information about Epstein, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump.
Little St. Jeff’s
Bill Clinton was on Little St. Jeff’s. That’s what Epstein was said to have called his private island. Virginia Giuffre claims to have seen him there, as well as other places, with Epstein. But not Donald Trump. The hopes of many were surely dashed, when the documents just released tended to exculpate Donald Trump in any wrongdoing or sexual impropriety with Epstein. Giuffre testified she did not remember seeing Trump on Epstein’s island, or at his homes. She called “inaccurate” a statement that Trump had flirted with her.
Ms. Maxwell has never been convicted of any crime. She was denied bail and is in a federal jail in Brooklyn while awaiting trial, which is scheduled to start in July of 2021.
Read more from Scott D. Cosenza.