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Ghislaine Maxwell pleads not guilty to new sex trafficking charges

Maxwell entered the New York courtroom in a dark blue prison outfit with her ankles shackled and her hair, now slightly grayed at the roots, hanging just below her shoulders. She wore a mask, except when she drank water from a plastic bottle.

She spoke only to tell the judge she waived her reading of the indictment while her attorney informed the judge she would plead not guilty to the charges.

The new charges alleged more recent conduct than what prosecutors initially charged. Last summer, Maxwell was charged by New York federal prosecutors with conspiracy and enticing minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, and the transportation of minors to engage in criminal sexual activity for allegedly grooming, recruiting and abusing underage girls from 1994 to 1997.

She has vigorously denied the previous allegations and pleaded not guilty to the earlier charges.

Maxwell, who is being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, asked for the in-person arraignment Friday. One of her sisters was in the courtroom. Also attending the brief court hearing was one of Epstein’s accusers.

She has been in federal custody since last July, when she was arrested by FBI agents at a secluded mansion in New Hampshire.
Lawyers for Maxwell have argued for her to be released on bail, saying jail conditions have caused her to lose hair, weight and the ability to concentrate. But US District Judge Alison Nathan has denied those requests, finding her wealth, international ties and “extraordinary capacity to avoid detection” made her a flight risk.

The judge ruled last week that two perjury counts Maxwell faces for allegedly lying in a deposition taken in a civil lawsuit brought by alleged victims will be tried separately. The judge has not yet ruled on Maxwell’s request to delay the trial on sex trafficking charges, which is currently set for July.

Maxwell was arrested almost exactly one year after federal prosecutors charged Epstein with running a sex trafficking operation between 2002 and 2005 at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida. Epstein allegedly worked with employees and associates to lure the girls to his residences and paid some of his victims to recruit other girls for him to abuse, according to the indictment.
Epstein, who pleaded not guilty, died on August 10, 2019, while awaiting trial in federal prison. His death was ruled a suicide by the New York City chief medical examiner’s office, but a doctor hired by Epstein’s family to conduct an independent autopsy has disputed that conclusion.

CNN’s Dakin Andone contributed to this report.

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