By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON

A federal judge denied Thursday a gag order being sought by the legal team representing Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime confidante and accused accomplice charged with sex trafficking crimes.

US District Court Judge Alison Nathan said in issuing her order that she “does not believe that further action is needed at this time to protect the Defendant’s right to a fair trial by an
impartial jury.”

“Accordingly, it denies the Defendant’s motion without prejudice,” Nathan said in her one-page order. “But the Court warns counsel and agents for the parties and counsel for potential witnesses that going forward it will not hesitate to take appropriate action in the face of violations of any relevant rules.”

The gag order, also known as a gagging order or suppression order, would have denied the legal teams, federal agents and lawyers representing witnesses from discussing the case publicly.

Nathan denied bail last week to Maxwell over concerns she poses too great a flight risk to be released from custody ahead of legal proceedings, which are reportedly slated to start begin next July.

Maxwell, a longtime Epstein confidante and former girlfriend, was arrested July 2 by the FBI in the US state of New Hampshire after vanishing from the public eye.

She has been accused of facilitating and participating in Epstein’s alleged sexual abuse of girls as young as 14, including by procuring them for him.

Prosecutors maintain she “played a critical role in the grooming and abuse of minor victims” in a sex trafficking scheme that spanned the states of New York, Florida and New Mexico.

Maxwell has been charged with one count of enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, one count of conspiracy to entice a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, one count of conspiracy to transport a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and two counts of perjury related to statements she made in 2016 while testifying under oath.

She faces 35 years behind bars if found guilty on all charges.

She has pled not guilty.

Epstein was found dead in his Manhattan federal jail cell last August in a suspected case of suicide while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. The disgraced financier was accused of exploiting underage girls in an elaborate sex trafficking scheme that crossed state lines.

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