Prosecutors: “alarming” that Maxwell can make the victims known

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NEW YORK – Some witnesses in the criminal case against Jeffrey Epstein’s ex-girlfriend may face harassment and intimidation and may be reluctant to cooperate with the government if defense lawyers are allowed to discuss it publicly, prosecutors said Tuesday. Prosecutors have asked a Manhattan federal court judge to prevent lawyers for British socialist Ghislaine Maxwell from publicly identifying women who have previously spoken about the financier or Maxwell in a public forum.

“The victims of Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein have suffered enough,” prosecutors said, urging accusers to respect privacy except for anyone who publicly admits to being part of the criminal case against Maxwell.

Defense attorneys said Monday that prohibiting them from publicly identifying alleged victims or potential witnesses in the case would undermine their ability to investigate, prepare witnesses for trial and plead on Maxwell’s behalf.

“Allowing defense counsel to publicly identify witnesses who did not identify with the record in this case risks exposing them to harassment and intimidation, without the defense benefiting other than perhaps deterring. to be witnesses to cooperate with the Government ”, the prosecutors wrote. in court documents.

They said defense attorneys said they believed they could refer to victims by name publicly before trial because individuals had gained a “benefit” by publicly identifying themselves.

Beyond the offensive notion that victims of sexual abuse derive a “benefit” from making the incredibly difficult decision to share their experience publicly, the suggestion that victims who receive this so-called “benefit” should benefit less. protections that the law usually offers to victims in criminal cases are alarming, ”the prosecutors wrote.

The dispute arose as lawyers for both sides were trying to agree on rules of secrecy regarding evidence ahead of the July 12 trial, when Maxwell faces charges that she recruited three teenage girls for Epstein for a purpose. abuse in London and the United States in the 1990s.

Maxwell, 58, incarcerated since her July 2 arrest at her New Hampshire estate, has pleaded not guilty to charges alleging that she sometimes associated with the mistreatment of the girls, including a 14-year-old.

Epstein, 66, was facing sex trafficking charges in Manhattan when he committed suicide last August while awaiting trial.

“The defense believes that it should not be prevented from disclosing or publicly disseminating the identity of alleged victims or potential witnesses referenced in discovery documents who have already identified themselves by speaking publicly,” the lawyers wrote. defense in their memory.

Prosecutors, however, said that “victims should be able to continue to come forward, in the way and in the places they choose themselves, without fear of retaliation, shame or other consequences arising from the dissemination of information. their identity by the defense lawyer in this case. “

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