Ghislaine Maxwell‘s lawyer says the alleged child sex trafficker’s treatment in jail ‘rivals scenes of Hannibal Lecter’s incarceration in the movie Silence of the Lambs’ as jury selection for her long-awaited trial starts today.
Bobbi Sternheim demanded her client be released from jail before the trial gets properly underway on November 29, saying Maxwell has been subjected to horrific treatment and sexual abuse by guards.
The lawyer said the British socialite’s 16 months in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn has been ‘reprehensible and utterly inappropriate for (a) woman on the cusp of turning 60 with no criminal record or history of violence’.
She added: ‘The surveillance rivals scenes of Dr. Hannibal Lecter’s incarceration despite the absence of the cage and plastic face guard.’
Maxwell has already bee
n denied bail five times and was previously deemed a ‘significant risk of flight’ by US District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan, who is overseeing the case.
Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyer says the alleged child sex trafficker’s treatment in jail ‘rivals scenes of Hannibal Lecter’ (pictured with Jeffrey Epstein in 2005)
Bobbi Sternheim said the treatment brings to mind Anthony Hopkins’ character in Silence of the Lambs (pictured)
Sternheim cited several factors behind Maxwell’s renewing her proposed $28.5million bail package, which also included offers to renounce her non-US citizenships and move most of her and her husband’s assets into a separate account.
In her letter, Sternheim wrote: ‘My weekly in-person legal visits with Ms. Maxwell are conducted under the most humiliating circumstances that I have ever experienced in many decades of federal criminal practice. As disturbing and invasive as they are for no justifiable reason, I get to leave; Ms. Maxwell does not.’
She said Maxwell ‘suffers from headaches and back pain and general physical weakness’ and alleges she has been ‘touched in a sexually inappropriate manner by corrections officers on multiple occasions’.
She adds: ‘Many of the officers are openly hostile toward her and have mentioned having read the press and seen various television shows which amplify their hostility.’
The lawyer said the British socialite’s 16 months in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn has been ‘reprehensible and utterly inappropriate’
Maxwell (pictured left with a black eye earlier this year) has already been denied bail five times and was previously deemed a ‘significant risk of flight’ by US District Judge Alison Nathan (right)
The lawyer claims if the treatment continues, ‘it is highly likely that she will not have the stamina to assist in her defence and endure the physical demands of a five-day per week, multi-week court proceedings’.
Sternheim says Maxwell is being made to live in ‘unsanitary conditions’ and is receiving ‘insufficient nutrition’ to the point she has lost 15 pounds and her hair is falling out.
The move is a last-ditch bid to free Maxwell before the trial starts this month.
Jury selection kicks off this morning with around 600 potential jurors filling out questionnaires that will then be used to determine who sits on the panel of 12 plus six alternates.
They will be asked questions about trial logistics and assessed if they can be impartial about an accused sex predator.
One of the questions seen by the New York Post reads: ‘During the trial, you will hear evidence alleging sex crimes against underage girls. Some of the evidence in this case will involve sexually suggestive or sexually explicit conduct.
‘Is there anything about the nature of this case and the accusations as summarized at the beginning of this questionnaire that might make it difficult for you to be a fair and impartial juror in this case?’
Another says: ‘Do you have any specific views or feelings concerning laws regarding the age at which individuals can or cannot consent to sexual activity with other individuals that would affect your ability to serve as a fair and impartial juror?’
Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking and other charges for helping recruit and groom underage girls for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 2004.
Epstein killed himself at age 66 in a Manhattan jail in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, in what a medical examiner called a suicide.
A graying and shackled Ghislaine Maxwell appeared at a pretrial hearing at federal court in New York Monday
Maxwell’s attorneys filed a series of last-minute motions seeking to include and block certain evidence from her upcoming sex trafficking trial
Earlier this week, Maxwell suffered a series of legal setbacks at a pretrial hearing in New York after a federal judge denied her bid to include a swathe of evidence in the upcoming proceedings.
Judge Alison Nathan on Monday ruled against a number of last-minute motions filed by the defense that sought to impose restrictions on prosecutors and question their decision to level charges at the trial.
The judge ruled that any evidence suggesting that the case against Maxwell was brought for ‘political’ reasons could not be introduced in front of the jury.
She also sided with prosecutors by allowing victims to use pseudonyms when testifying, adding a layer of secrecy to the case which has already come under intense scrutiny.
Sternheim told the courtroom Maxwell was awoken hours before dawn and was forced to ‘get on her hands and knees’ to get in the prison van to attend the hearing because she was in leg shackles.
Maxwell was also not allowed to look at legal materials, Sternheim told the court.