Ghislaine Maxwell deposition should be unsealed quickly, judge rules

By Guardian staff and agencies

Transcripts of interviews lawyers conducted with Ghislaine Maxwell involving her former boyfriend, the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, should be released as soon as possible, a New York judge ordered on Tuesday.

US district judge Loretta Preska signaled that the transcripts of two days of depositions in 2016, during civil litigation, of British socialite Maxwell, the daughter of the late UK media baron, Robert Maxwell, required speedy revelation.

Preska said the depositions and related documents – along with the deposition transcript of an anonymous accuser – should be released publicly as soon as is practicable.

She gave lawyers an unspecified amount of time to make “minimal redactions” to block personally identifiable information that would reveal the names of non-parties or their families.

A day earlier, the second US circuit court of appeals in Manhattan ruled that Preska properly decided that the public had a right to access documents from legal proceedings and that transcripts should be unsealed because arguments by Maxwell’s lawyers were meritless.

The depositions were taken as part of a civil lawsuit brought against Maxwell by one of Epstein’s accusers. The lawsuit was eventually settled.

Lawyers for Maxwell, 58, had argued that the documents reflecting seven hours of interviews over two days should remain sealed in part to protect her right to a fair trial in July on criminal charges that she helped Epstein traffic and sexually abuse teenage girls in the 1990s.

They noted that portions of the transcripts relate to perjury charges in the indictment she faces. She has pleaded not guilty.

Maxwell has been incarcerated since her arrest in New Hampshire early July. If convicted, she could face up to 35 years in prison.

The arrest came a year after 66-year-old Epstein was arrested and charged with sex trafficking.

He killed himself in August 2019 at a federal jail in Manhattan, where he was awaiting trial.

In 2008 in Florida, Epstein pleaded guilty to state charges of soliciting and procuring a person under age 18 for prostitution. He spent 13 months in jail, paid settlements to victims and remained a registered sex offender.