© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Ghislaine Maxwell appears via video link during her arraignment hearing in Manhattan Federal Court in New York City
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Ghislaine Maxwell is due to be brought to justice on Friday for sex trafficking, and a federal judge may consider delaying the trial of the British socialite for helping financier Jeffrey Epstein recruit and sexually abuse girls.
Maxwell, 59, is expected to appear in person before U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan on the charges, which were included in an indictment released on March 29.
Prosecutors charged Maxwell with treating and paying for a girl who, from the age of 14, gave Epstein nude massages and engaged in sex acts with him from 2001 to 2004, and whom the girl had recruited other people to offer erotic massages.
They had previously accused Maxwell of helping Epstein recruit and prepare three other girls to be sexually abused from 1994 to 1997.
Maxwell had pleaded not guilty to the previous charges, which included two counts of perjury.
His trial is scheduled to begin on July 12. The counts of perjury would be dealt with separately in a second trial.
Maxwell has been jailed in Brooklyn since her arrest last July. If found guilty on all counts, she faces up to 80 years in prison.
Epstein, 66, committed suicide in a Manhattan jail in August 2019, a month after being arrested for sex trafficking.
Maxwell’s lawyers have long complained about his inability to effectively prepare for a July 12 trial.
They cited the need to examine “voluminous” amounts of evidence, accused prosecutors of being too slow in handing over the documents, and said prison restrictions prevented Maxwell from adequately preparing his defense.
Prosecutors opposed any delay and pledged to make “significant efforts” to ensure Maxwell is ready for trial in July.
They said a delay would also harm the four alleged victims, saying two of them reported significant stress related to the case and expressed a desire to go to trial.
Even if no delay has been granted, a departure on July 12 is not guaranteed.
According to a court spokesperson, only seven courtrooms in the Manhattan courthouse have been reconfigured for the COVID-19 pandemic to accommodate jury trials.
Defendants jailed in criminal cases get higher priority for jury trials, but some defendants are ahead of Maxwell.
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