Court says Epstein’s ex-girlfriend’s testimony can be public

Posted at 7:09 AM, October 20, 2020 and last updated 7:45 AM, June 2, 2023

By LARRY NEUMEISTER Associated Press

Audrey Strauss, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, speaks during a news conference to announce charges against Ghislaine Maxwell for her alleged role in the sexual exploitation and abuse of multiple minor girls by Jeffrey Epstein, Thursday, July 2, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

NEW YORK (AP) — A British socialite’s testimony in a lawsuit related to Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse activities can be made public, an appeals court ruled Monday.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan issued its conclusions in a series of orders it released regarding 2016 depositions by Ghislaine Maxwell.

Her lawyers had appealed a judge’s July ruling to allow release of the transcripts of two depositions in which she answered questions before the lawsuit was settled.

The judge had concluded that there was a presumption of public access to deposition materials.

A three-judge appeals panel that heard arguments last week concluded that Maxwell’s arguments for secrecy were meritless.

Maxwell, 58, is scheduled for trial next July on charges that she helped recruit girls, including one as young as 14, for Epstein to abuse in the 1990s. She has pleaded not guilty and has been held without bail since her early July arrest. If convicted, she could face up to 35 years in prison.

Epstein killed himself in a federal jail last year as he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges.

A lawyer for Maxwell had argued that the depositions shouldn’t be made public because they are evidence in the criminal case brought against her.

The depositions were taken in April and July 2016 in a civil case brought by one of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Giuffre.

Virginia Roberts Giuffre, a sexual assault victim, speaks during a press conference outside a Manhattan court where sexual victims, on invitation of a judge, addressed a hearing after the accused Jeffrey Epstein killed himself before facing sex trafficking charges, Tuesday Aug. 27, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Maxwell’s lawyers said the depositions should remain secret because they form the basis of perjury charges in the indictment against Maxwell.

Maxwell was asked during one deposition whether Epstein had a scheme to recruit underage girls for sexual massages.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Maxwell responded, her lawyer noted in making his arguments for secrecy.

Excerpts from seven hours of depositions were ordered released along with over 2,000 pages of other documents.

Sigrid McCawley, a lawyer for Giuffre, in a statement called the 2nd Circuit ruling “an important step towards vindicating the public interest in understanding the scope and scale of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking ring and the efforts made to conceal it.”

Messages seeking comment were left with lawyers for Maxwell and the Miami Herald, which intervened to secure the public release of documents.