Ghislaine Maxwell deposition unsealed after court ruling

Victoria Bekiempis in New York
·6-min read
<span>Photograph: UNTV/Reuters</span>
Photograph: UNTV/Reuters

A court document containing detailed information about Ghislaine Maxwell and her relationship with the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was unsealed on Thursday morning in New York just moments before a court-imposed deadline.

This document, an April 2016 deposition, is among about a dozen long-awaited Maxwell files that have been unsealed, with the first filing involving Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre’s lawyer alleging the British socialite avoided a question “about allegedly ‘adult’ sexual activity related to Jeffrey Epstein”.

She also tried to distance herself from and play down links between Epstein and former US president Bill Clinton, who had used the financier’s private plane.

And Maxwell claimed she did not introduce Britain’s Prince Andrew to minor sex partners, in the tense and defensive deposition that was part of a civil case. While the name is redacted in this deposition, the description of events involving this redaction echoes claims involving Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.

Maxwell was also asked at the time about speculation that Epstein may have performed shady financial work for the US and possibly the Israeli governments.

The unsealing of the deposition came after an appeals panel ruled it could be released, and a lower court urged a swift unsealing.
The unsealing of the deposition came after an appeals panel ruled it could be released, and a lower court urged a swift unsealing. Photograph: Carlo Allegri/Reuters

She also provided additional information on her romantic ties to Epstein and how he provided her with financial assistance. Asked if she had considered herself Epstein’s girlfriend, Maxwell replied: “That’s a tricky question. There were times when I would have liked to think of myself as his girlfriend.”

In the deposition, Maxwell denied inviting under-18s to Epstein’s homes, except, she said, the children of friends in a social setting, but fudged on whether she “brought” Giuffre as a 17-year-old to Epstein’s home.

“Virginia Roberts [as her name was then] held herself out as a masseuse and invited herself to come and give a massage,” Maxwell said.

Under further questioning, she had added: “She was a masseuse and in the form and as my job, I was to have people who he wanted for various things including massage. She came as a masseuse.”

The unsealing of Maxwell’s deposition, which she had given during past civil litigation involving Giuffre, came after an appeals panel ruled it could be released, and a lower court urged a swift unsealing.

Maxwell’s lawyers failed to persuade the US second circuit court of appeals panel of judges to overturn Manhattan federal court judge Loretta Preska’s July ruling to release the 418 pages of sworn testimony.

The appeals judges decided on Monday that Preska rightly determined that the public had a right to access the documents.

Sigrid McCawley, partner at Boies Schiller Flexner who represents Giuffre, praised the unsealing.

“This is a long time coming and a welcome step towards revealing the evidence of the scope and scale of the Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell sex trafficking ring. The public should know today’s unsealing is only a small part of the total evidence,” McCawley said in a statement.

“As the evidence comes out, it will be clear why Ms Maxwell and others who enabled Jeffrey Epstein are fighting so hard to keep it concealed. As our client Virginia Giuffre bravely asserts, they did not act alone.”

In the civil case where this deposition originated, Giuffre maintained that Maxwell drew her into Epstein’s circle as a teen, under the false pretences of providing work as a masseuse. Giuffre alleged that Maxwell and Epstein pressured her to engage in sex with rich and powerful men, such as Britain’s Prince Andrew.

Ghislaine Maxwell appears via video link during her arraignment hearing in Manhattan federal court, on 14 July 2020 in this courtroom sketch.
Ghislaine Maxwell appears via video link during her arraignment hearing in Manhattan federal court, on 14 July 2020 in this courtroom sketch. Photograph: Jane Rosenberg/Reuters

Giuffre’s 2015 civil action said that Maxwell defamed her in claiming she was a liar for alleging the pair participated in sexual impropriety. Prince Andrew has adamantly denied Giuffre’s claims.

Maxwell, who was arrested in July for alleged sexual crimes, conspiracy and perjury involving Epstein, argued in court papers that unsealing the deposition from this old civil case “will lead to a violation of [her] due process right to a fair trial by an impartial jury” in her criminal proceedings.

Maxwell has pleaded not guilty in her criminal case. The Manhattan US attorney’s office used her deposition – which Maxwell believed was confidential – in its perjury accusation against her in the criminal case, claiming she lied under oath.

Maxwell, meanwhile, in her 2016 deposition, denied that she and Bill Clinton – who is among the rich and powerful men who interacted with Epstein – were together on a Caribbean island with the late sex offender.

In this portion of unsealed documents, Maxwell avoided giving specifics on Epstein and Clinton’s relationship.

“This is a subject of defamation about Virginia and the lies she has told and one of the lies she told was that President Clinton was on the island where I was present. Absolutely 1,000% that is a flat-out total fabrication and lie.”

“You did fly on planes, Jeffrey Epstein’s planes with President Clinton, is that correct?” she was asked.

“I have flown, yes,” she replied.

“Would it be fair to say that President Clinton and Jeffrey are friends?” Giuffre’s lawyers asked.

“I wouldn’t be able to characterize it like that, no,” Maxwell said.

“He just allowed him to use his plane?” the lawyer pressed.

“I couldn’t categorize Jeffrey’s relationship,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell denied ever seeing Epstein having sex with anyone and recoiled at a suggestion in court that she had had three-way sex with Epstein and Giuffre.

“That is just one other disgusting thing she added,” Maxwell said of Giuffre.

She explained why she stuck by Epstein after he became a convicted sex offender in Florida, before his arrest in New York years later.

“I’m a very loyal person and Jeffrey was very good to me when my father passed away,” she said, referring to the late press baron Robert Maxwell. “And I believe that you need to be a good friend in people’s hour of need …”

According to the Associated Press, Epstein largely invoked the fifth amendment, which protects a person against self-incrimination, during a deposition later in 2016.

“Fifth,” he replied when he was asked if Maxwell was “one of the main women” he used to procure underage girls for sexual activities.

While the lawyers’ lines of inquiry to Maxwell often raised more questions than answers, fascinating detail emerged about purported government work by Epstein.

“Do you know if Jeffrey Epstein had any relationship with the US government either working for the CIA or the FBI in his lifetime?” Maxwell was asked, prompting an objection from her lawyer.

“I have no knowledge of that,” she ultimately answered.

“Do you know if Jeffrey Epstein has any friends that are in the CIA or FBI?” she was pressed, eventually saying: “I have no idea.”

“Are you aware of an investigation of Jeffrey Epstein in the early 80s relating to the SEC?” the lawyer asked her, apparently referring to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, a financial oversight agency.

And: “Are you aware that Jeffrey Epstein has told people that he worked for the government to recover stolen funds?” Giuffre’s lawyer asked.

Maxwell denied knowledge.

“Has he ever told that you he worked for the US government?” Maxwell was asked, to which she replied: “I have no knowledge, I don’t recollect him telling me he worked for the government,” she said.

And Maxwell denied knowledge of whether Epstein was affiliated with or ever worked for the Israeli government.