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Ghislaine Maxwell reported jail staff threatened her safety, prompting suicide watch

06/26/2022 | 03:29pm EDT
FILE PHOTO: Judge Alison Nathan swears in juror number 50

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Ghislaine Maxwell reported Brooklyn jail staff threatened her safety, prompting employees to place her on suicide watch, prosecutors said on Sunday, arguing there was no need to delay her sentencing on sex trafficking charges.

Maxwell, 60, is scheduled to be sentenced on Tuesday for her December conviction for helping her then-boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein, the globe-trotting financier and convicted sex offender, abuse girls between 1994 and 2004. Prosecutors say she deserves between 30 and 55 years in prison.

In court filings on Saturday, Maxwell's lawyers said she was placed on suicide watch at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) and asked for a delay to her sentencing. On Sunday, prosecutors argued no delay was needed because Maxwell had her legal documents and could get the same amount of sleep.

They said Maxwell was transferred after reporting threats to her safety by MDC staff to the federal Bureau of Prisons' inspector general.

Maxwell refused to elaborate about why she feared for her safety, prosecutors said. She told psychology staff she was not suicidal.

Maxwell's lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Bureau of Prisons said it does not comment on any particular inmate's confinement conditions.

Prosecutors said the jail's warden will oversee an investigation.

"Given the defendant's inconsistent accounts to the (inspector general) and to psychology staff, the Chief Psychologist assesses the defendant to be at additional risk of self-harm, as it appears she may be attempting to be transferred to a single cell where she can engage in self-harm," prosecutors said in a court filing.

Epstein killed himself in 2019 in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial.

The sentence will be imposed by U.S. Circuit Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan federal court. Maxwell wants less than 20 years, arguing she is being scapegoated for Epstein's crimes.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

By Luc Cohen

© Reuters 2022
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