Evidence deadline looms in case of Epstein’s ex-girlfriend

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FILE – In this July 2, 2020, file photo, Audrey Strauss, acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, points to a photo of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell during a news conference, in New York. Transcripts released Thursday show the ex-girlfriend of financier Jeffrey Epstein was combative and defensive under tough questioning four years ago about her ex-boyfriend’s interactions with underage girls. Ghislaine Maxwell said she “never saw any inappropriate underage activities with Jeffrey ever.” (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors and defense lawyers are clashing days before a deadline for evidence to be turned over in the prosecution of Jeffrey Epstein’s one-time girlfriend on charges that she recruited girls for him to sexually abuse.

The trial of Ghislaine Maxwell is not scheduled to start until July, but prosecutors must turn over evidence to her lawyers by Monday.

Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to charges alleging that she recruited three girls in the mid-1990s for Epstein to abuse. Epstein killed himself in a Manhattan federal lockup in August 2019 as he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges.

On Oct. 30, prosecutors said in a letter to a Manhattan federal court judge that they will in the next week give Maxwell’s lawyers over 1.2 million documents from devices seized from Epstein’s residences.

They say they’ve already turned over more than 350,000 pages of documents, including search warrants, subpoena returns and some records related to law enforcement investigations of Epstein.

Defense lawyers have complained since Maxwell’s July arrest that prosecutors are slow walking the turnover of evidence the defense needs to prepare its arguments to challenge charges against the 58-year-old British socialite. The arguments are due Dec. 21.

“Summer is gone, Winter is coming, and the Government has failed to make good on its promises,” the lawyers wrote.

The lawyers said in an Oct. 23 letter to the trial judge that prosecutors had promised substantial production of evidence would occur quickly, but so far it has been “’substantial’ in size, not substance.”

They said about one fourth of the documents turned over so far relate to materials from civil litigation to which Ms. Maxwell was a party and the remainder relate largely to Epstein and have nothing to do with the 1994 to 1997 time period of the conspiracy alleged in charges against her.

In their letter, prosecutors called the defense claims factually and legally incorrect.

“Contrary to the defense’s suggestion, the Government has made numerous productions consistent with the discovery schedule in this case and is working diligently to continue to meet the discovery deadlines in this case,” they wrote.

Prosecutors also disputed defense claims that Maxwell did not have adequate access to evidence at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where she is held without bail. Prosecutors said she has access to the materials 13 hours per day, longer than any other inmate.

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