Lawyers for the disgraced socialite Ghislaine Maxwell have asked a judge to throw out her case on sex trafficking charges, citing the recent release from prison of actor Bill Cosby.
Cosby, 83, was convicted in 2018 of drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand, a Temple University employee, at his suburban estate in 2004. But he was released when Pennsylvania’s highest court overturned the conviction after finding an agreement with a previous prosecutor prevented him from being charged in the case.
Maxwell’s lawyers are now arguing that the same circumstances apply to Maxwell, due to a much criticized plea deal that helped the late financier Jeffrey Epstein and his co-conspirators dodge federal charges in Florida.
Maxwell, 59, is charged in relation to allegedly procuring underage girls for Epstein. She has pleaded not guilty and faces up to 80 years in prison if convicted.
Her lawyers wrote in a letter to Judge Alison Nathan that Epstein’s plea deal should afford her the same protection as Cosby. “The government is trying to renege on its agreement and prosecute Ms Maxwell over 25 years later for the exact same offenses for which she was granted immunity,” her lawyers wrote.
It is not likely that the legal move will work.
Nathan already ruled the deal that Epstein’s lawyers negotiated in Florida did not apply to the ongoing case in Manhattan and prosecutors have strongly admonished Maxwell’s lawyer, David Oscar Marcus, for making the same argument in an opinion piece published in a New York newspaper.
In a letter to Nathan, prosecutors condemned the decision to write a column, calling it an attempt to sway jurors. “Not only did his statements directly comment on the merits of this case, but they did so in a manner designed to appeal directly to the pool of potential jurors in this case,” they wrote.
Maxwell is the daughter of the late British publishing magnate Robert Maxwell, and a former girlfriend and longtime associate of Epstein.
Epstein, whose social circle included a vast number of wealthy and powerful people, killed himself in a New York jail cell in August 2019 after pleading not guilty to sex trafficking charges.
The Manhattan US attorney’s office declined comment on the letter.