Ghislaine Maxwell forced to crawl 'on her hands and knees' to get in prison van on way to court

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Ghislaine Maxwell was forced to crawl “on her hands and knees” whilst wearing leg shackles to get into a prison van and attend a pre-trial hearing, her lawyer has claimed.

Bobbi Sterheim said Ms Maxwell was woken at 3.45am and arrived at the courthouse at 5.38am but was prevented from looking at her legal materials.

She was offered "very little food" and given no utensil to eat it with.

The hearing began at 11am.

Ms Maxwell, 59, who was brought into court shackled and wearing a blue prison jumpsuit and a black mask, has long complained about her treatment in Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Centre.

She appeared exhausted as she sat listening to proceedings and conferring with her legal team.

Her lawyers have previously claimed their client has lost hair and over 15 pounds in body weight during her incarceration.

On Saturday, Ms Maxwell's brother, Ian Maxwell, told Sky News he believed prison officers have "physically abused" his sister.

In the pre-trial hearing, Judge Alison Nathan ruled the term 'victim' and 'minor' could be used in the trial to describe accusers.

Watch: Ghislaine Maxwell - Brother accuses New York prison officers of 'physically abusing' sister as she awaits trial

The defence had argued the terms were "inherently prejudicial" but Judge Nathan ruled banning them would be "unnecessary and impractical".

The judge also agreed to a prosecution request to allow the four alleged victims and four other witnesses to use pseudonyms.

Ms Nathan told the court the alleged victims would be giving "highly sensitive and personal testimony" and it was important they were protected from harassment and embarrassment.

In contrast to UK law, in the US, alleged victims of sexual offences are not automatically guaranteed lifelong anonymity.

Judge Alison Nathan also ruled that no evidence on the government's decision to charge Ms Maxwell will be allowed in court.

The defence had wanted to use statements from former attorney general Bill Barr to suggest there was a political motive behind the prosecution.

Ms Nathan told the court that such evidence could "substantially confuse and delay the trial".

The court was told Ghislaine Maxwell has not been offered a plea deal by prosecutors and has not requested one.

The British socialite, and former girlfriend of paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, is awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking, which she denies. She is accused of procuring teenage girls for Mr Epstein to sexually abuse.

Epstein, a wealthy financier and convicted sex offender, took his own life in jail in 2019. He was awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.

The opening arguments of Ghislaine Maxwell's trial are expected to begin on 29 November.

Watch: US attorney - 'Maxwell participated in abuse herself'

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