NEW YORK (AP) – A judge ordered the government on Thursday to explain why guards repeatedly shed light on Ghislaine Maxwell’s cell during the night, an action her lawyers say may have caused a bruise on one eye while she awaits trial in an alleged sex trafficking plot with ex-boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein.
US District Judge Alison J. Nathan issued the order after a Maxwell lawyer complained that guards threatened to punish his client after Maxwell failed to explain a bruise over an eye that was noticed on Wednesday night when she saw her reflection in a nail clipper.
The lawyer, Bobbi Sternheim, said that Maxwell, 59, may have had the bruise when trying to protect her eyes from the light that awakens her every 15 minutes while guards make sure she is breathing.
“Although Ms. Maxwell does not know the cause of the bruise, as reported to the medical and psychological staff, she is increasingly reluctant to report information to guards for fear of retaliation, discipline and punitive tasks,” wrote Sternheim.
Maxwell pleaded not guilty to the sex trafficking charges, alleging that she recruited teenage girls for ex-boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein for sexual abuse from 1994 to 2004. Epstein, a financier, killed himself in a federal prison in Manhattan in August 2019 while waiting a sex trafficking trial.
A lawyer for Maxwell told a panel of three judges at the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals of the United States earlier this week that Maxwell is being treated as though she is at risk for suicide, although she is not.
Two judges expressed concern that the light was flashing in Maxwell’s cell at night, interrupting his sleep.
A government lawyer admitted to the appeals panel that Maxwell was not declared at risk of suicide, as she argued that Maxwell should remain behind bars before a trial scheduled for July 12. Defense lawyers have asked for the trial to be postponed until January next year.
The 2nd Circuit, in a brief order, upheld the lower court’s decision to deny Maxwell bail three times, claiming that it represents a risk of escape. Defense lawyers offered $ 28.5 million and hired armed guards 24 hours a day to prove that Maxwell would not flee. Maxwell, an American citizen, also offered to give up her British and French citizenship.
The appeals court instructed Nathan to deal with any complaints about Maxwell’s sleeping conditions.
In his order on Thursday, Nathan instructed the government to find out whether Maxwell is being subjected to flashlight surveillance every 15 minutes at night or any other atypical flashlight surveillance.
In that case, the judge said, the government must explain the basis for doing so and whether Maxwell can receive adequate eye coverage.
Maxwell’s lawyer told the 2nd Circuit that she had to cover her eyes with a towel or socks because she did not receive a mask.
Ian Maxwell, Ghislaine Maxwell’s brother, said in a statement that he was “shocked that my sister’s guards did not immediately refer her to proper medical care”.
“Instead,” he said, “they intimidated and harassed her, effectively blaming the victim. The simple solution is to review the images from the security camera 24 hours a day to see what may have happened. “
He added: “In addition to what happened in this ‘House of Horrors’, I can inform you that Ghislaine’s family and friends continue to support her. We are confident that when this is over, it will be the prosecutor who will have a black eye.”