Judge: $28.5M bail package for Epstein ex not a close call

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 – A $28.5 bail package proposed by lawyers for the late Jeffrey Epstein’s ex-girlfriend only strengthened the reasoning for keeping her locked up until her July trial, a judge said in a written ruling unsealed Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan in Manhattan made the observation while explaining her reasons for denying bail earlier this week for Ghislaine Maxwell, the former girlfriend of Epstein, the wealthy financier and convicted sex offender. She initially sealed the decision, but released it after lawyers requested no redactions.

Maxwell, 59, was arrested in July at a $1 million New Hampshire estate on charges alleging she recruited three teenage girls in the mid-1990s for Epstein to sexually abuse. An indictment also alleged Maxwell sometimes joined the abuse. She has pleaded not guilty and faces a July trial.

Nathan denied bail at a July hearing. Defense lawyers recently asked for bail again, saying Maxwell has pledged her $22.5 million in assets plus millions more from friends and family. They cited her 4-year-old marriage as evidence of strong U.S. ties.

Nathan rejected the new bail proposal, which would include 24-hour armed guards and electronic monitoring, for the same reasons she rejected the original proposal.

The judge noted the charges carry a presumption of detention before trial and could result in a long prison term.

She described the evidence as strong and cited Maxwell's substantial resources and foreign ties, along with citizenship in France, which does not extradite its citizens, to go with her citizenship in the United Kingdom and the U.S.

She also noted that Maxwell was captured while hiding in Massachusetts, away from the family “to whom she now asserts important ties," and was not fully candid about her financial situation.