Ghislaine Maxwell loses fight to keep her Jeffrey Epstein testimony sealed

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WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court dealt Ghislaine Maxwell, the alleged madam to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, twin blows late Monday by declining to consolidate her appeals in numerous overlapping cases and striking down her effort to thwart release of a controversial deposition she gave in a now-settled civil lawsuit.

The three-judge Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit held more than two hours of oral arguments last week, and issued a succinct Monday afternoon order holding that a lower court judge did not err in order the release of a 418-page deposition from April 2016 that could shed new light on the Epstein empire.

“We have reviewed all of the arguments raised by Defendant-Appellant Maxwell on appeal and find them to be without merit,” the judges wrote, also turning away a request for consolidation with Maxwell’s criminal case in the Southern District of New York. “We DENY the motion to consolidate this appeal with the pending appeal in United States v. Maxwell.”

The ruling affirmed a decision over the summer by U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska to release hundreds of documents from a 2015 civil suit involving Maxwell and Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre. The case was settled in 2017 and the Miami Herald sued for the release of the documents following its groundbreaking November 2018 “Perversion of Justice” series, which spotlighted how Epstein escaped serious punishment despite widespread accusations that he sexually abused underage girls. Epstein was arrested in July 2019 and found dead in a jail cell the following month, determined to be a suicide.

Preska in July ruled in favor of the Herald, arguing there was an overwhelming presumption of the public’s right to access Maxwell’s deposition. Maxwell, who was arrested this past July 2 and denied bail, argued that the deposition would jeopardize her ability to get a fair trial. Maxwell was charged with four counts of sexual trafficking of a minor for allegedly recruiting and grooming three girls Epstein sexually abused, allegedly partaking in the abuse of one of the girls, and two counts of perjury for statements she made in the April 2016 deposition. She has appealed another judge’s ruling that blocked her from sharing what she said was new material from her federal criminal case to be considered by Preska.

Monday’s ruling by the three-judge panel concluded Preska had not erred in her decision, noting that “the District Court correctly held that the deposition materials are judicial documents to which the presumption of public access attaches, and did not abuse its discretion in rejecting Maxwell’s meritless arguments that her interests superseded the presumption of access.”

There is no determined timetable for when Preska will release the much-anticipated lengthy transcript of Maxwell’s 2016 deposition. The judge has already released many documents from the civil case and is weighing requests by two so-called John Does that their names be redacted from any document subsequently released because of the reputational harm it could cause them.

Spencer Kuvin, a lawyer who has represented several of Epstein’s alleged victims, welcomed the ruling Monday.

“This is good news for not just the victims of Epstein, but for victims everywhere,” he said. “The Courts should not be a party to the long history of Epstein and his co-conspirator’s attempts to avoid public scrutiny for their actions. Everyone who was a part of the Epstein sex ring should be concerned.”

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