By LARRY NEUMEISTER and TOM HAYS, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Accusers within the upcoming trial of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell charged with serving to Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse teenage women can testify utilizing pseudonyms or first names to defend their privateness, a decide dominated Monday.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan got here after Maxwell was introduced right into a Manhattan courtroom in shackles for a closing pretrial listening to. Nathan made a collection of evidentiary rulings to outline how the extremely anticipated trial beginning later this month will unfold.
At the top of an almost four-hour continuing, a prosecutor mentioned no plea talks had occurred. Defense lawyer Bobbi Sternheim mentioned there was no purpose for them as a result of her consumer “has dedicated no crime.” Maxwell echoed her lawyer’s phrases, saying aloud: “I’ve not dedicated a criminal offense.”
Saying she is going to renew a bail software that has been rejected a number of instances, Sternheim complained that her consumer was being handled so harshly that Maxwell, shackled at the ankles and waist together with her palms handcuffed in entrance of her, had to get on her palms and knees to climb into the van that introduced her to the courthouse.
Then, she was dropped off round 5:30 a.m., greater than 5 hours earlier than the beginning of the listening to and put alone in a chilly holding cell, the lawyer mentioned. When Maxwell fell asleep, she was “poked to be woken up,” Sternheim instructed the decide.
Sternheim has repeatedly complained that Maxwell is woke up by guards at a federal lockup in Brooklyn who shine a lightweight into her cell each quarter-hour to examine on her.
Nathan mentioned she was permitting pseudonyms for a number of witnesses who’re anticipated to present “express” and “extremely delicate” testimony at the trial. Steps to withhold witnesses’ identities in open courtroom are wanted “to defend alleged victims from potential harassment from the media and others,” the decide mentioned.
She famous comparable precautions have been taken for the accusers at the path of Keith Raniere, a self-help guru convicted in 2019 of sexually exploiting followers at his NXIVM compound in upstate New York. And she mentioned the anonymity will encourage different victims to come ahead.
Nathan additionally rejected a protection bid to bar the federal government from referring to the accusers as “victims” or “minor victims,” calling it “pointless and impractical.” And she additionally set limits on protection efforts to painting the Maxwell investigation as hasty and politically motivated, saying exploring such accusations would solely confuse the jury.
The trial ought to “deal with the proof or lack of proof and the credibility or lack of credibility of the witnesses,” she mentioned.
Defense legal professionals appeared on the verge of a serious acquire when the decide appeared to be contemplating ruling out the testimony of considered one of 4 ladies anticipated to testify about intercourse abuse on the grounds that she was not underage by legislation within the jurisdictions the place she maintained she was sexually abused by Epstein at age 17. The decide requested legal professionals to submit arguments on the problem.
Prospective jurors will start filling out questionnaires later this week and oral questioning of them will start in mid-November. Opening statements are scheduled for Nov. 29
Maxwell, 59, has been jailed since her arrest in July 2020, when she pleaded not responsible to prices that she recruited teenage women for Epstein to sexually abuse and generally joined within the abuse.
Epstein died at a Manhattan lockup in August 2019 whereas awaiting trial on intercourse trafficking prices. The loss of life was dominated a suicide.
Prosecutors filed arguments final week claiming the protection sought to create a “facet present” with extraneous topics.
The decide largely agreed, ruling that protection legal professionals will not be allowed to query witnesses about why legislation enforcement pursued the case it did, the way it selected what subpoenas to situation and why it determined to cost Maxwell and never others.
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