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Ghislaine Maxwell cannot keep deposition details secret, U.S. appeals court rules

Credit: REUTERS/JANE ROSENBERG

A U.S. appeals court on Monday dealt Ghislaine Maxwell a blow by refusing to block the release of a deposition she gave concerning her relationship with the late financier and registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK, Oct 19 (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Monday dealt Ghislaine Maxwell a blow by refusing to block the release of a deposition she gave concerning her relationship with the late financier and registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said there was a presumption the public had a right to see the April 2016 deposition, which was taken in a now-settled civil defamation lawsuit by Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein's accusers.

In its unsigned order, the appeals court also said U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska in Manhattan did not abuse her discretion in rejecting Maxwell's "meritless arguments" that her interests superseded that presumption.

Lawyers for Maxwell did not immediately respond to requests for comment, including whether they plan a further appeal.

The British socialite had argued that she thought the 418-page deposition was confidential, and that releasing it could undermine her ability to defend against criminal charges that she enabled Epstein's sexual abuses.

Her lawyers have said bad publicity from disclosing "intimate, sensitive, and personal" details from the deposition would violate Maxwell's right against self-incrimination, and imperil a fair trial because jurors might hold it against her.

The appeals court separately rejected Maxwell's request to modify a protective order in her criminal case, and let her use confidential materials produced by the government to try to persuade Preska not to unseal the deposition.

Maxwell, 58, has pleaded not guilty to helping Epstein recruit and groom underage girls as young as 14 to engage in illegal sexual acts in the mid-1990s, and not guilty to perjury for having denied involvement in the deposition.

Giuffre said she was a teenager when Maxwell pulled her into Epstein's circle, where she was groomed and trafficked for sex with Epstein and other wealthy, powerful men.

The push to have the deposition unsealed came from Giuffre and the Miami Herald newspaper, which had done investigative work about Epstein's conduct, his accusers and his efforts in 2007 to avoid federal sex trafficking charges.

Lawyers for Giuffre and the newspaper were not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)

((jon.stempel@thomsonreuters.com; +1 646 223 6317; Reuters Messaging: jon.stempel.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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