US questions Maxwell's marriage in push to keep her jailed

FILE - In this July 2, 2020, file photo, Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, points to a photo of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell during a news conference in New York. On Tuesday, Nov. 24, one of Maxwell's attorneys said that her client is awakened every 15 minutes in jail while she sleeps to ensure she's breathing. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

NEW YORK – Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime confidante Ghislaine Maxwell told court officials at the time of her arrest in July that she was “in the process of divorcing her husband,” a disclosure that prosecutors said undermines her argument that marriage will keep her in the U.S. if she is freed from jail.

Prosecutors highlighted Maxwell's divorce discussion in a 33-page response Friday to her lawyers' renewed pitch to spring her from a federal lockup in Brooklyn, where she awaits trial on charges she recruited at least three teen girls for Epstein to sexually abuse in the mid-1990s.

Born into wealth and high society as the daughter of a British publishing tycoon, Maxwell is now awakened frequently by guards to make sure she is breathing and her lawyers say she faces increased risk of contracting COVID-19 behind bars.

Maxwell's lawyers proposed in court papers this week that she instead await trial under a $28.5 million bail package, backed largely by her and her husband's assets, that would include armed guards to ensure she doesn’t flee a New York City residence.

Prosecutors noted in their response, however, that she'd be staying there with someone other than her husband. The person's name was blacked out in court papers. Maxwell’s husband has not been identified in court papers.

Maxwell, 58, remains an extreme flight risk as she faces charges that could put her in prison for up to 35 years if she's convicted, prosecutors said. In addition to the U.S. and United Kingdom, she also has citizenship in France, which does not extradite its citizens outside the European Union, they said.

Epstein, Maxwell's ex-boyfriend, killed himself in his cell at a Manhattan federal jail in August 2019, a month after his arrest on sex trafficking charges. He was 66.

Prosecutors said in their filing Friday that they are confident in the strength of the case against Maxwell, which they said will include extensive testimony from the three accusers, as well as corroborating documents and witness testimony.