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Ghislaine Maxwell, the woman accused of recruiting and grooming girls for pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, is losing her hair and has lost more than 15 pounds, her lawyer alleged in a legal filing Monday.
The letter from Bobbi Sternheim is the latest volley in a battle between Maxwell and the government over Maxwell’s treatment at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn, New York, where Maxwell is being held as she awaits her July 2021 trial. In mid-November, a staffer at the MDC tested positive for the coronavirus, sending Maxwell into quarantine—and sparking competing claims about how, exactly, the alleged former madam is being treated.
“Being ‘livid’ over the death of Epstein, the Department of Justice is seeking to repair the BOP’s tarnished reputation by placing Maxwell under extraordinarily harsh conditions, not in any response to Ms. Maxwell’s requirements but rather in response to the failed handling of a completely different inmate,” Sternheim wrote in a letter to U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan, referring to the Bureau of Prisons. Epstein died by hanging in a different New York City facility, the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan; his death was ruled a suicide.
In a letter filed the same day, however, lawyers for the MDC insist that Maxwell isn’t being treated any differently than anyone else behind bars at the facility.
Sternheim says that up until September, Maxwell was not given Bureau of Prison-regulation meals and, for the first six weeks after her jailing, Maxwell got less time than other prisoners to make phone calls. Her sleep also gets interrupted every 15 minutes by guards checking on her with a flashlight, Sternheim alleged in a late-November letter.
That treatment is far harsher than what other inmates have to endure, the letter alleges: “Ms. Maxwell has not, by her conduct or by virtue of the charges, brought this type of overly restrictive confinement upon herself.”
In their letter Monday, lawyers for the jail said that the flashlights weren’t unusual.
“MDC Brooklyn correctional staff utilize flashlights when viewing inmate cells overnight to ensure inmates are breathing and not in distress,” they wrote, adding that Maxwell has received three meals a day since her arrival.
Maxwell, the attorneys said, “remains in good health,” despite the outbreak of COVID-19 among MDC prisoners. They maintain that she is not in contact with any exposed prisoners, although Sternheim’s letter alleges that Maxwell is being overseen by guards who aren’t subject to mandatory testing and that some have come from facilities with coronavirus cases.
Maxwell has been charged with four counts related to sex-trafficking and two counts of perjury. Before being arrested in July, she had vanished almost entirely from the public eye following Epstein’s death in 2019.
Maxwell has been denied bail, but her attorneys are now seeking to reevaluate that decision.