Detention facility staff awaken Ghislaine Maxwell every fifteen minutes to confirm she is still breathing, according to her lawyer, who claims the alleged sex trafficker is being subjected to undue conditions while awaiting trial.
CNN reports that Maxwell, the former girlfriend of convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, was this week placed in quarantine at New York City’s Metropolitan Detention Center after a COVID-19 scare among staff.
In a letter to a Manhattan judge, Maxwell’s attorney, Bobbi Sternheim, said her client is effectively being held “in de facto solitary confinement under the most restrictive conditions”.
Maxwell is subjected to excessive and invasive searches, Sternheim claimed, adding that her sleep is frequently disrupted.
“Despite non-stop in-cell camera surveillance Ms. Maxwell’s sleep is disrupted every 15 minutes when she is awakened by a flashlight to ascertain whether she is breathing,” Sternheim wrote.
Epstein, the billionaire financier who was charged with sex trafficking minors, died last year while awaiting trial in a separate New York City detention facility.
In her submission, Sternheim said the frequent checks were unnecessary, as Ghislaine Maxwell had no history of suicidal thoughts.
A judge has requested a Metropolitan Detention Center official to front court to address the claims about Maxwell’s detainment.
Maxwell faces six charges, including enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, perjury, and transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.
Prosecutors argue Maxwell was complicit in Epstein’s predation, and was tasked to “recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse” girls as young as 14 between 1994 and 1997.
Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to the charges and maintains her innocence on all counts.
In July, Maxwell’s legal counsel stated she “vigorously denies the charges, intends to fight them, and is entitled to the presumption of innocence”.
She was denied bail after a judge ruled her to be a flight risk, and her legal team’s requests for her to be moved into the general population have been denied.
Her trial is scheduled for July 2021.
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