Judge will not end Ghislaine Maxwell's 'flashlight surveillance' in jail

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: Ghislaine Maxwell appears via video link during her arraignment hearing in Manhattan Federal Court in New York

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Friday rejected Ghislaine Maxwell's effort to stop jail officials from shining flashlights into her cell at night, which the British socialite said impedes her preparation for her November trial on sex crime charges.

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan said the government offered "neutral reasons" for officials at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn to conduct "flashlight surveillance" of Maxwell every 15 minutes.

Prosecutors had said the checkups were appropriate because Maxwell has been housed alone, faced serious charges and might experience stress from the high-profile case.

But the judge urged jail officials to consider whether to reduce sleep disruption for pretrial inmates like Maxwell, and impose only protocols that were "necessary for her safety and security" and consistent with the treatment of other inmates.

Lawyers for Maxwell did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The lawyers made the request in connection with Maxwell's having allegedly received a "black eye," possibly from her using a sock or towel to shield her eyes from the light. Inmates are forbidden from using eye masks.

Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking and other charges for her alleged role in procuring four teenage girls for the late financier Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse between 1994 and 1997, and between 2001 and 2004.

Nathan wants the trial to begin on Nov. 29, subject to courtroom availability and COVID-19 protocols. Maxwell has been jailed since her arrest in July.

Epstein killed himself in a Manhattan jail in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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