Defense attorneys for Ghislaine Maxwell asked a federal judge Monday to keep key evidence secret ahead of her trial, including nude photos and videos of purported victims.
In a proposed protective order filed in a Manhattan court, Ms. Maxwell’s attorneys said all “highly confidential” material must be shielded from public view.
“Highly confidential information includes nude, partially nude or otherwise sexualized images, videos or other depictions of individuals,” they wrote in the filing.
Ms. Maxwell’s attorneys also asked the judge to block prosecutors from disseminating, transmitting or copying materials marked as “highly confidential.”
Prosecutors say Ms. Maxwell procured girls for disgraced billionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s sex-trafficking empire and even sexually abused some of the victims herself.
Some of those who came forward with claims against Epstein have filed a civil suit against Ms. Maxwell, which is currently ongoing in federal court.
Defense attorneys worry that public disclosure of the material could not only prejudice a jury ahead of Ms. Maxwell’s criminal trial, but also poison the civil case.
“There is a substantial concern that these individuals will seek to use discovery materials to support their civil cases and future public statements,” Ms. Maxwell’s legal team wrote. “It is therefore vital that the government’s potential witnesses and their counsel be subject to the same restrictions as Ms. Maxwell.”
Prosecutors and Ms. Maxwell’s attorneys have been negotiating which discovery materials can be made public, but reached a near-total impasse with agreement reached on only two details, according to the court filing.
One point of contention is whether Ms. Maxwell’s attorneys can publicly disclose the identity of victims named in discovery material but not spoken to the media about the case.
The women are potential witnesses in the criminal case against Ms. Maxwell.
Defense attorneys say the names must be released so they can verify or rebut the plaintiffs’ claims.
“The government’s proposed restriction is therefore ‘broader than necessary’ to protect the privacy interests of these individuals who have already chosen to self-identify and will hinder the defense’s ability to conduct further factual investigations, prepare witnesses and advocate on Ms. Maxwell’s behalf,” they wrote.
U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan will decide which material can remain confidential.
Ms. Maxwell was arrested at her New Hampshire mansion earlier this month. She is charged with six counts relating to the sexual abuse and trafficking of minors. Her arrest comes roughly one year after authorities caught Epstein, who killed himself in a lower Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.