Epstein victims' fund must hand over Maxwell accusers' claims -judge

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Ghislaine Maxwell attends pre-trial hearing in New York
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By Luc Cohen and Karen Freifeld

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Tuesday ruled that the administrators of Jeffrey Epstein's victims' compensation fund must provide records of claims made by women who accuse Ghislaine Maxwell of playing a role in their having been sexually abused.

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan rejected requests by the fund's administrators and by federal prosecutors to quash the subpoena for the records by Maxwell's lawyers. Nathan will review the materials Maxwell wants to see before deciding which can be turned over.

The subpoena is part of the defense effort to question the credibility https://www.reuters.com/world/maxwell-challenge-accusers-seek-distance-epstein-sex-abuse-trial-2021-11-23 of accusers linking Maxwell to Epstein's alleged abuses. Maxwell's lawyers have repeatedly said the accusers are motivated by financial incentives to lie or exaggerate.

Prosecutors have charged Maxwell, 59, with recruiting and grooming four underage girls for financier Epstein to abuse from 1994 to 2004. Epstein died by suicide in 2019 in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial on sex abuse charges.

Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking and other charges. Her trial is scheduled to begin on Nov. 29.

Attorneys for the British socialite have said four accusers expected to testify against her have made claims to the fund https://www.reuters.com/world/us/jeffrey-epstein-victims-fund-awards-125-mln-claims-process-ends-2021-08-09, which paid out more than $121 million to about 138 people.

The defense sought records from the fund related to payments to the women and statements they made, court records show. Prosecutors called the records irrelevant.

At a Tuesday pre-trial conference, Nathan also deferred a ruling on whether or not to admit an address book for Maxwell that prosecutors said contained contact information for at least one alleged victim.

Maxwell's lawyers had questioned the address book's authenticity.

(Reporting by Karen Freifeld and Luc Cohen; Additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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