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NEW YORK — A British socialite charged with recruiting three girls for Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse made a last-minute bid Wednesday to stop the public release of her 2016 testimony in a civil case.
Ty Gee, a lawyer for Ghislaine Maxwell, told a Manhattan judge that the depositions by his client should be kept sealed, in part because they are evidence in the criminal case brought against her on July 2.
U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska denied what she described as an “eleventh-hour” request after last week ordering the public release of the documents by Thursday. But she also delayed the release of the depositions through Friday to give Gee time to appeal. He immediately did with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan.
Maxwell, 58, has pleaded not guilty to charges that she procured the girls, including one as young as 14, for Epstein to abuse in London and the United States in the 1990s. She remains at a federal jail in Brooklyn after bail was denied because she is a risk to flee.
The charges against Maxwell came nearly a year after Epstein killed himself in a Manhattan lockup where he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges. If convicted, she could face up to 35 years in prison.
Gee said Maxwell only revealed “intimate information about her personal life” in a case brought by one of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Giuffre, because a confidentiality agreement between parties in the case “specifically excluded an exception for law enforcement.”
“Had the language not been made an order of the Court, Ms. Maxwell would have proceeded in a different fashion,” Gee wrote.
He also told the judge that lawyers in the case may have used the need for depositions to set a “perjury trap” for his client.
The lawyer said the public release of the April and July 2016 depositions should be blocked because they form the basis of criminal perjury charges in the indictment brought against Maxwell. But Preska said he could have made that argument for the last month.
The perjury charges pertain to Maxwell’s answers to questions posed by lawyers in the civil case, including whether Epstein had a scheme to recruit underage girls for sexual massages.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Maxwell responded, Gee noted.
Excerpts from seven hours of depositions of Maxwell were made public last year along with over 2,000 pages of documents from the since-settled lawsuit.
“The unsealing of Ms. Maxwell’s deposition transcript would result in substantial negative media publicity and speculation in an internet world,” Gee wrote. “The public’s right of access to Ms. Maxwell’s deposition transcript is substantially outweighed by the compelling interest in ensuring her right to a fair trial.”
Lawyers for Giuffre and the Miami Herald, which intervened to secure the public release of documents, were sent messages seeking comment.