British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges that she recruited underage girls for her former partner, the late financier Jeffrey Epstein, to sexually abuse.
Maxwell, 58, appeared in a video court hearing in New York after being held since her July 2 arrest at her million-dollar New Hampshire mansion. Prosecutors say she refused to open the door when FBI agents came calling earlier this month. The agents entered the building through force to find that Maxwell had retreated to an interior room.
She is accused of recruiting at least three girls, one as young as 14, for Epstein to sexually abuse between 1994 and 1997.
US District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan presided over the hearing for Maxwell, scheduling a trial date for July 12, 2021. Judge Nathan also rejected her request for bail, saying she had "demonstrated sophistication in hiding her resources and herself."
Prosecution lawyers had aired their grievances about the potential granting of a $5 million (€4.39 million) bail that defense lawyers were seeking.
"The defendant has not only the motive to flee, but the means to do so swiftly and effectively,'' prosecutors wrote, citing her access to millions of dollars and the scant information about her finances provided by her lawyers.
Maxwell's lawyers, meanwhile, said she "vigorously denies the charges, intends to fight them, and is entitled to the presumption of innocence."
An indictment alleged that Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of British media mogul Robert Maxwell who died in 1991, helped groom the young girls and was occasionally present when Epstein abused them. It also alleged that she lied during a 2016 deposition in a civil case stemming from Epstein's abuse of girls and women.
Epstein died by suicide in August of last year, several weeks after two accusers confronted him at a bail hearing and insisted Epstein should stay in prison while awaiting underage sex trafficking charges that alleged he abused girls in the early 2000s.
jsi/stb (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)
This is an updated version of a previous article.