Lawyers for Ghislaine Maxwell have released a photograph of the British socialite, who is in a US prison facing sex trafficking charges, showing her with a bruised face.
Maxwell, 59, who is accused of procuring underage girls for the convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein to abuse, has been in jail since last year while awaiting trial. She denies the allegations. Since her arrest last summer, she has only been seen in court sketches during hearings.
The photo was included in a letter filed on Thursday to a New York judge by her attorney Bobbi Sternheim, who suggests Maxwell was injured while having to cover her eyes with a sock or towel at night because guards at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn repeatedly flash light in her cell every 15 minutes to make sure she is breathing.
In the letter addressed to Judge Alison J Nathan, Sternheim wrote: “Last night, she was confronted by MDC staff due to a visible bruise over her left eye.
“No guard addressed the bruise until Ms Maxwell, who has no mirror, caught a reflection of her aching eye in the glean of a nail clipper.
“At that point, MDC staff confronted Ms Maxwell regarding the source of the bruise, threatening to place her in the SHU [special housing unit] if she did not reveal how she got it.”
Sternheim went on to add that guards at the prison put inmates in the special housing unit if they have been injured or subjected to abuse by other inmates.
“While Ms Maxwell is unaware of the cause of the bruise, as reported to medical and psych staff, she has grown increasingly reluctant to report information to the guards for fear of retaliation, discipline, and punitive chores,” Sternheim added.
Her legal team have alleged she was being held in worse conditions and treated differently to other inmates in the prison due to the “Epstein Effect”, saying she is being scapegoated for Epstein’s crimes following his suicide in prison last year.
They have also claimed during a recent appeal for bail that Maxwell is being treated as if she is a suicide risk even though she is not one. Her lawyers requested last week that guards no longer check on her through the night.
Judge Nathan on Thursday ordered the government to find out if Maxwell is being subjected to flashlight surveillance every 15 minutes at night or any other atypical flashlight surveillance.
If so, the judge said, the government should explain the basis for this and whether she could be provided with an eye covering if necessary.
On Tuesday, Maxwell lost her latest bail hearing on the grounds that she is a flight risk, and so will probably remain in jail until her trial in July.