Audrey Strauss, acting attorney for the southern district of New York speaks alongside William Sweeney Jr, assistant director-in-charge of the New York office, at a news conference announcing charges against Ghislaine Maxwell for her role in the sexual exploitation and abuse of minor girls by Jeffrey Epstein in New York on 2 July 2020Image copyright

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Ms Maxwell was arrested at her New Hampshire home on 2 July

The trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite and ex-girlfriend of the late convicted US sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, will begin in almost exactly a year’s time, on 12 July 2021.

Ms Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to charges of trafficking minors for him.

She filed the plea at a hearing via video link in New York, where she remains in prison while awaiting trial.

Her lawyers have asked for her release on bail of $5m (£4m) because of the risk of getting coronavirus in prison.

Ms Maxwell was arrested on 2 July. If convicted, she faces up to 35 years in prison.

US federal prosecutors say she is an “extreme” flight risk and should remain in custody.

Epstein died in prison on 10 August 2019 as he awaited his trial on sex trafficking charges. His death was determined to be suicide.

Speaking via video link on Tuesday, prosecutors said that while the investigation was ongoing, they did not currently anticipate expanding the charges against Ms Maxwell.

The prosecution said it would take “no more than two weeks” to present its case and recommended three weeks for the trial.

Lawyers for Ms Maxwell said their client was “not Jeffrey Epstein” and suggested that she had been unfairly portrayed as a “villain” in the media.

They added that she should be granted “appropriate” bail on Tuesday with strict conditions.

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Ms Maxwell, seen here in 2016, is accused of helping Epstein groom girls as young as 14

In a filing on Monday, prosecutors said that when FBI agents visited Ms Maxwell’s property on 2 July, they identified themselves and asked her to open the front door.

“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,” they said.

They added: “Agents were ultimately forced to breach the door in order to enter the house to arrest the defendant, who was found in an interior room in the house.”

Prosecutors allege that between 1994 and 1997, Ms Maxwell helped Epstein groom girls as young as 14. They have said that they expect “one or more victims” to testify.

Last week, Ms Maxwell’s lawyers said her detention at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, put her at “serious risk” of contracting coronavirus.

They said she was not a flight risk and asked the judge to release her from custody on bail signed by six of her associates and secured by a $3.75m property in the UK.

Under the proposed bail conditions, Ms Maxwell, 58, would surrender her passports from the US, UK and France and confine herself to a property in New York with electronic GPS monitoring.

But prosecutors say her wealth, multiple passports and and the length of her potential sentence means there is a risk she could abscond.

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Media captionRos Atkins has taken a look at the many remaining questions for Ghislaine Maxwell

Four of the charges Ms Maxwell faces relate to the years 1994-97 when she was, according to the indictment, among Epstein’s closest associates and also in an “intimate relationship” with him. The other two charges are allegations of perjury in 2016.

The indictment says Ms Maxwell “assisted, facilitated, and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein to recruit, groom and ultimately abuse victims known to Maxwell and Epstein to be under the age of 18”.

Who is Ghislaine Maxwell?

Ms Maxwell is the daughter of the late British media mogul Robert Maxwell.

A well-connected socialite, she is said to have introduced Epstein to many of her wealthy and powerful friends, including Bill Clinton and the Duke of York (who was accused in the 2015 court papers of touching a woman at Jeffrey Epstein’s US home, although the court subsequently struck out allegations against the duke).

Buckingham Palace has said that “any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors” by the duke was “categorically untrue”.

Ms Maxwell, who has mostly been out of public view since 2016, was arrested at her remote estate in Bradford, New Hampshire, on 2 July.

Epstein sex trafficking case: Timeline

  • 2005: One of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged victims, aged 14, reports him to the police in Palm Beach
  • 2006: Epstein is charged with unlawful sex acts with a minor
  • 2007: A plea deal is struck – instead of facing federal sex-trafficking charges, Epstein pleads guilty to two charges of soliciting prostitution, including with a minor
  • 2008: Epstein gets an 18-month sentence following the plea deal
  • November 2018: The Miami Herald publishes an explosive investigation into Epstein, the plea deal, and the dozens of women alleging abuse
  • July 2019: Epstein is arrested again, accused of sex trafficking of underage girls over a number of years
  • August 2019: Epstein is found dead in his prison cell while awaiting trial
  • 2 July 2020: Ghislaine Maxwell is arrested by the FBI at her New Hampshire home
  • 14 July 2020: Ms Maxwell pleads not guilty to charges of trafficking minors for Epstein

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