Prosecutors urge US judge to deny Ghislaine Maxwell bail

FBI say Maxwell tried to flee into another room inside her house after ignoring orders to open the front door. (AP pic)

NEW YORK: British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell ignored the orders of FBI agents during her arrest on sex-trafficking charges, prosecutors said Monday as they urged a US judge to deny her bail request.

Attorneys for the Southern District of New York said in a court filing that agents had to breach the front door of the 58-year-old’s home to detain her on July 2.

“Through a window, the agents saw the defendant ignore the direction to open the door and, instead, try to flee to another room in the house, quickly shutting a door behind her,” the prosecution wrote.

The allegation was made in response to Maxwell’s lawyers asking New York Judge Alison Nathan to release their client on bond of US$5 million during Tuesday’s bail hearing.

They insist that Maxwell – who has been charged with six counts related to the alleged sex crimes of her former boyfriend, convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein – is not a flight risk.

Maxwell is accused of grooming and recruiting minor girls to travel and engage in sex acts with Epstein, who killed himself in prison last year while awaiting trial.

Her defence team said she “vigorously” denies the charges and “intends to fight them,” during a written plea for bail submitted on Friday.

The prosecution responded by saying Maxwell’s conduct at the time of her arrest suggests she may use her wealth and three passports to try to flee justice.

They said that during a search of her house, the agents found a cell phone wrapped in tin foil – “a seemingly misguided effort to evade detection … by law enforcement.”

The government’s attorneys added that a security guard told the agents that Maxwell’s brother had hired a security company staffed with former British military members to guard her New Hampshire property.

“She appears to be skilled at living in hiding,” the prosecution said.

The charges against her include conspiracy to entice minors as young as 14 years old to travel in order to engage in illegal sex acts.

Maxwell is also accused of taking part in some of the sexual abuse and of committing perjury during a 2016 lawsuit.

Tuesday’s bail hearing is scheduled for 1pm.

Maxwell is due to appear via video-link.

Her arrest has put fresh scrutiny on Britain’s Prince Andrew, who vehemently denies claims he had sex with a 17-year-old girl procured by Epstein.