NEW YORK (AP) — A lawyer for the onetime girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein said Monday that her client, who again seeks release on bail, has lost weight and hair as she suffers under onerous jail conditions imposed in part because Epstein killed himself last year in a federal lockup.
The claims by defense attorney Bobbi Sternheim were made on Ghislaine Maxwell's behalf after lawyers for the Metropolitan Detention Center warden in Brooklyn defended conditions at the facility in a Friday letter that was publicly filed on Monday.
“Ms. Maxwell remains in good health," the lawyers wrote in the letter as they defended her treatment as by-the-book following of rules to ensure the safety of all federal inmates.
The letters were filed on the same day that a Nov. 25 letter was unsealed in which two of Maxwell's lawyers said they were renewing her application to be released on bail after compiling information not available when her initial request was rejected in July. Judge Alison J. Nathan said she will decide later this month whether to conduct a hearing.
Ghislaine Maxwell has been held since her July arrest on charges that she procured teenage girls for Epstein to abuse in the mid-1990s. The British socialite has pleaded not guilty and is preparing for a trial next July.
Seeking bail for Maxwell, attorneys Mark S. Cohen and Christian Everdell wrote that they have assembled a “comprehensive bail package” including financial information and letters from family members and close friends who have agreed to support Maxwell but want to keep their identities secret.
“They are legitimately afraid that if their identities become public, they will be subjected to the same relentless media scrutiny and threats that Ms. Maxwell has experienced for more than a year," the lawyers wrote.
In her letter, Sternheim wrote that Maxwell was being treated harshly in part because the Bureau of Prisons wants to repair its reputation after failing to prevent the August 2019 suicide of Epstein in a Manhattan federal lockup as he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges.
She cited recent comments that Attorney General William Barr made to ABC News when he said he was keeping a close watch to make sure Maxwell makes it to trial after Epstein's death.
“It is obvious that Ms. Maxwell is bearing the brunt of BOP incompetence," Sternheim wrote. “The Department of Justice is seeking to repair the BOP’s tarnished reputation by placing Ms. Maxwell under extraordinarily harsh conditions, not in any response to Ms. Maxwell’s requirements, but rather in response to the failed handling of a completely different inmate."
Sternheim said Maxwell, 58, has lost hair and over 15 pounds while she has been detained.
She also maintained that her client has not been properly protected from an outbreak of the coronavirus, has been subjected to repeated unnecessary searches, has been awakened by flashlight-laden guards throughout the night when she sleeps, has had her legal emails erased and has not always received the vegetarian diet she has requested.
“The conditions under which she is detained are punitive, unwarranted, deleteriously impacting her ability to prepare her defense, and interfering with counsel’s ability to provide the legal representation to which she, and any other detainee, deserves," Sternheim said.
In their letter, prison lawyers wrote that Maxwell's weight has not fluctuated more than 2 pounds from her current weight of 134. They said her diet needs have been addressed and other conditions are standard to maintain “a safe and secure environment" for inmates.
A message seeking additional comment was sent to the Bureau of Prisons.