A lawyer for Ghislaine Maxwell has said her client has lost 15lbs (almost 7kg) in prison under “punitive” conditions part-imposed on her after Jeffrey Epstein killed himself last year.
Bobbi Sternheim made the claims on the British socialite’s behalf after the Metropolitan Detention Centre warden in Brooklyn defended the conditions.
The prison meanwhile maintains that Maxwell“remains in good health” and that her treatment follows by-the-book recommendations to protect all federal inmates.
The letters were issued on the same day that the 58-year-old’s lawyers said they were renewing her bail application – after compiling information that was not readily available when her initial request was rejected in July.
Lawyers Mark S Cohen and Christian Everdell said they have a “comprehensive bail package” that includes financial information and letters from close family and friends who have agreed to support Maxwell.
However this is on the basis that they remain anonymous, as they are “legitimately afraid” that they will face the same “relentless media scrutiny” experienced by Maxwell.
Her arrest in the summer came a year after Epsteinwas detained and charged with sex trafficking.
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He killed himself in August 2019at a federal jail in Manhattan where he was awaiting trial without bail.
Maxwell had since been in hiding and was discovered by FBI agents in July this year, after raiding a property in New Hampshire.
She was arrested on charges that she procured underage teenage girls for Epstein to abuse in the mid-1990s, but is pleading not guilty and prepares for trial next summer.
The one-time girlfriend of Epstein maintains her position of innocence, and that she never saw the financier engaging in – what she called in a 2016 deposition – “inappropriate underage activities”.
Ms Sternheim wrote in her letter that Maxwell was facing harsh treatment in part because the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) failed to prevent Epstein’s suicide in August 2019 as he awaited trial on sex trafficking chargers – and want to avoid history repeating itself.
The lawyer said: “It is obvious that Ms Maxwell is bearing the brunt of BOP incompetence.
“The Department of Justice is seeking to repair the BOP’s tarnished reputation by placing Ms Maxwell under extraordinarily harsh conditions, not in any response to Ms Maxwell’s requirements, but rather in response to the failed handling of a completely different inmate.”
Ms Sternheim said that her client has lost hair and over 15 pounds during her imprisonment.
The lawyer added that Maxwell had not been adequately protected from the outbreak of COVID-19, was subject to repeated unnecessary searches, has been awaken by flashlight-laden guards during the night, has had important legal emails deleted and has not always been given vegetarian food as requested.
Ms Sternheim said: “The conditions under which she is detained are punitive, unwarranted, deleteriously impacting her ability to prepare her defence, and interfering with counsel’s ability to provide the legal representation to which she, and any other detainee, deserves.”
Prison lawyers refute these claims – writing in a letter that Maxwell’s weight has not fluctuated more than two pounds from her current weight and that her dietary needs have also been addressed.
The other conditions are standard procedures to maintain “a safe and secure environment” for all inmates, the prison has said.