NEW YORK — Manhattan federal prosecutors investigating Jeffrey Epstein and his alleged madam, Ghislaine Maxwell, were denied access last year to records in a civil lawsuit brought by accuser Sarah Ransome, a source told the New York Daily News.
The ruling by Manhattan Federal Judge John Koeltl ordering the records remain under seal was hinted at during a hearing Tuesday before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The decision, which came before Epstein’s arrest, was a lucky break for Maxwell and his other alleged enablers, Lesley Groff and Sarah Kellen. All were named as defendants in Ransome’s case, which was settled in December 2018 after nearly two years of litigation.
Ransome accused Kellen in the suit of maintaining Epstein’s “sex schedule.” Kellen allegedly reported directly to the multimillionaire and Maxwell. Groff, according to Ransome, maintained travel schedules and ensured “young females” were at the locations where Epstein traveled.
Maxwell, Ransome charged, “was for decades the highest-ranking employee of the Defendants’ sex trafficking venture and enterprise.”
The South African-born Ransome said Epstein’s enablers lured her into his depraved operation around 2007 with the promise that he would use his influence to get her admitted into the Fashion Institute of Technology.
The decision by Koeltl has implications for Maxwell’s fight against two perjury charges stemming from her depositions in a separate case brought by Epstein victim Virginia Giuffre. Prosecutors say Maxwell lied about her knowledge of Epstein’s stash of sex toys and abuse of underage girls in two depositions in 2016 for the Giuffre case.
A different judge granted the feds access to the Giuffre case file, including the two depositions, in April 2019.
“We think there’s no precedent for how the government obtained Ms. Maxwell’s depositions,” Maxwell attorney Adam Mueller told the 2nd Circuit on Tuesday.
The British socialite was also deposed in the Ransome case, according to the source, but it remains under wraps.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz hinted in the hearing that prosecutors wanted to keep details about the unusual requests to judges under wraps as much as possible. An investigation into Epstein’s sex trafficking operation is ongoing.
“That could create problems alerting targets of the government’s investigation to the scope of the investigation as well as to investigative techniques,” she said.
Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to charges of lying under oath, as well as grooming underage women for Epstein’s abuse. She is locked up at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.
Attorneys for Maxwell, Groff and Ransome either did not respond to inquiries or declined comment. Epstein hanged himself in a cell while awaiting trial for sex trafficking in August 2019 — five months after the feds obtained the records in the Giuffre case.
The Daily News exclusively reported Tuesday on outreach by attorneys for Epstein victims to Manhattan federal prosecutors in 2016. The attorneys, sources said, unsuccessfully pitched the Southern District of New York on an investigation of Epstein and Maxwell.
Those discussions will likely be probed in the criminal case against Maxwell. Her attorneys have written she was the victim of a “perjury trap” that resulted in charges against her.
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