During and after Ghislaine Maxwell’s videoconference arraignment on Tuesday afternoon, details of the prosecution’s argument against granting her bail helped fill in a picture of her. It emerged that Maxwell, who pleaded not guilty on charges of enabling Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of minors and perjury, had allegedly pretended to be a journalist named Jen Marshall in order to buy the New Hampshire mansion where she was recently arrested by FBI agents. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Moe said that Maxwell had wrapped her cell phone in tinfoil in a clumsy attempt to avoid detection. The federal judge Alison Nathan rejected Maxwell’s proposal to serve her pretrial detention at a luxury Manhattan hotel, ruled that she is a significant flight risk, and denied her bail.
One detail, though, that seems to have escaped the first batch of news reports and Twitter dispatches from the hearing is that Maxwell allegedly has a secret spouse. In constructing the argument against Maxwell’s claim to transparency, Moe said, “the defendant also makes no mention whatsoever about the financial circumstances or assets of her spouse whose identity she declined to provide to Pretrial Services.” Given the immense media and public intrigue Maxwell has generated, it was surprising that the statement appeared to go unnoticed. But the reason for the omission was banal, and somewhat familiar during the current surge of videoconferences:
The hearing began with Nathan and the prosecutors trying to resolve some technical difficulties on the call. In the large jury assembly room at Manhattan’s U.S. District Court where reporters sat in socially distanced seats and watched the video projected onto a screen, it was hard at some points to make out what was being said. An additional phone line for listening in on the proceedings, initially meant to accommodate 500 callers and then expanded to 1,000, was crowded enough that some couldn’t hear the entirety.
By nighttime, some of these virtual-arraignment hazards seemed to have been sorted out, if only because court transcripts got a closer look:
While Moe mentioned the allegation briefly, the development was of greater interest to onlookers. On Wednesday morning, the New York Post and The Telegraph were among the tabloids to report the additional information. On Tuesday, Maxwell’s trial was set to begin on July 12, 2021. By then, perhaps, the attempts to identify her alleged spouse will have succeeded.
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