Ghislaine Maxwell asks NY appeals court to toss conviction in Epstein sex trafficking case

Lawyers for Ghislaine Maxwell asked a New York federal appeals court Tuesday to toss her conviction for aiding Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual exploitation of teenage girls — contending she was protected by a 2007 sweetheart deal between the deceased financier and the feds.

Arguing before the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan, the former British socialite’s appellate lawyer, Diana Fabi Samson, said a section in Epstein’s nonprosecution deal with the Southern District of Florida covering potential co-conspirators should have prohibited the feds from charging Maxwell 13 years after it was penned.

“Denying the viability of this agreement strikes a dagger in the heart of the trust between the government and its citizens regarding plea agreements,” Samson argued.

Arguing for the government, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Rohrbach said the deal — which saw Epstein dodge meaningful responsibility a decade before his 2019 arrest and suicide — didn’t stop New York prosecutors from bringing charges.

“The central promise in the nonprosecution agreement is a promise by the Southern District of Florida not to prosecute Epstein in that district,” Rohrbach said. It is not clear which potential co-conspirators were named in the document.

Judge Raymond Lohier asked Rohrbach whether he knew of any similar deal binding every federal prosecutor’s office in the country. Rohrbach said he didn’t and described any reference to “United States” in Epstein’s deal as “generic.”

“It says nothing about the national scope,” Rohrbach said.

Evidence at the Manhattan Federal Court trial revealed how the multilingual, Oxford-educated daughter of a publishing baron — who introduced Epstein to the likes of her old school pal Prince Andrew — acted as the Brooklyn-born multimillionaire predator’s “lady of the house” for at least a decade beginning in 1994, procuring disadvantaged teens and young women for him to abuse around-the-clock under the guise of receiving massages, with Maxwell participating in some of the sessions.

Annie Farmer, one of the Epstein victims who testified at Maxwell’s trial, released a statement on the effort to overturn the conviction.

“It took far too many years for the Epstein survivors to get some small piece of deserved justice with Ghislaine Maxwell’s conviction and prison sentencing,” Farmer said “Nothing in Maxwell’s appellate argument today changes the fact that she does not get a free pass and her conviction should be upheld. Survivors deserve nothing less.”

Maxwell’s summer 2020 arrest came about a year after Epstein killed himself at lower Manhattan’s now-shuttered Metropolitan Correctional Center while awaiting trial. Maxwell has long claimed prosecutors scapegoated her with egg on their faces after losing a high-profile inmate.

Epstein’s second arrest on sex-trafficking charges carrying the potential for decades in prison came after a bombshell report by the Miami Herald accused him of abusing dozens of young girls in plain sight at his properties worldwide for decades, including at his Palm Beach, Fla., mansion, private Caribbean Island and Upper East Side townhouse, where he hosted some of the world’s most famous names.

The highly unusual nonprosecution agreement afforded him by former Southern District of Florida U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta allowed him to plead guilty in a state court in 2008 to soliciting a 14-year-old for sex and to leave jail for work during his 13-month sentence.

Police records unsealed in a related lawsuit in January detailed how Palm Beach police had identified up to 33 girls recruited for Epstein’s abuse around the time Acosta offered him the deal.

The appeals court panel did not indicate when it would rule.