NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors won’t have to immediately divulge the identities of three women who say financier Jeffrey Epstein and his ex-girlfriend conspired to sexually abuse when they were teenagers, a judge said Tuesday.
Defense lawyers were premature in asking that she force the government to name the accusers of Epstein and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan said in an order.
Lawyers for Maxwell had asked the Manhattan jurist to force prosecutors to reveal the identities of the women, saying they needed sufficient time to investigate the allegations and prepare for a July 12 trial.
Prosecutors opposed the request, saying they wanted to protect the privacy of victims of sexual abuse and because of their concerns that defense lawyers might try to use information from the criminal case in civil litigation involving Maxwell.
The judge, though, said prosecutors had only just begun turning evidence to be used at trial over to defense lawyers and discussions between lawyers on both sides about disclosures such as which witnesses might testify had not yet begun.
She said defense lawyers could renew their request after a deadline passes in November for prosecutors to finish turning over evidence.
Maxwell, 58, has pleaded not guilty to charges that she recruited girls as young as age 14 during the mid-1990s for Epstein to abuse. Prosecutors claim she sometimes joined in the abuse.
She was arrested last month and is held without bail at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where her lawyers also have asked the judge to intervene to relax restrictions on her that they say harms her ability to prepare for trial.
The judge declined to do so, but she directed prosecutors to update her every three months on Maxwell’s jail conditions, particularly as it relates to her access to legal materials and her ability to communicate with her lawyers.
Epstein committed suicide a year ago at a Manhattan federal jail as he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges.