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Ghislaine Maxwell put on suicide watch ahead of sentencing

Ghislaine Maxwell put on suicide watch ahead of sentencing
Lawyer argues observation will stop jailed socialite preparing for sentencing hearing in time

Ghislaine Maxwell has been put on suicide watch at the Brooklyn jail where she is being held ahead of her sentencing this week, her lawyer said on Saturday night.

Bobbi Sternheim, Maxwell’s lawyer, wrote to the judge overseeing the British socialite’s case to say she would would seek a delay to the sentencing hearing if kept under watch.

Maxwell was convicted on 29 December on five criminal counts, including sex trafficking, for recruiting and grooming four girls for late billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 2004. She is due in Manhattan Federal Court for sentencing on Tuesday.

But Ms Sternheim said her client was “unable to properly prepare for sentencing” after officials at the Metropolitan Detention Centre on Friday declared the suicide watch and abruptly moved Maxwell, 60, to solitary confinement.

Ms Sternheim said Maxwell was given a “suicide smock” and her clothing, toothpaste, soap and legal papers were taken away.

She added that her client was not suicidal and was evaluated by a psychologist on Saturday who reached the same conclusion.

“If Ms Maxwell remains on suicide watch, is prohibited from reviewing legal materials prior to sentencing, becomes sleep deprived, and is denied sufficient time to meet with and confer with counsel, we will be formally moving on Monday for an adjournment,” Ms Sternheim wrote.

<p>Maxwell with Jeffrey Epstein, the late billionaire for whom she trafficked young girls</p>

Maxwell with Jeffrey Epstein, the late billionaire for whom she trafficked young girls

A spokesman for US Attorney Damian Williams in Manhattan, whose office prosecuted Maxwell, declined to comment.

Maxwell’s sentence will be imposed by US Circuit Judge Alison Nathan. It was unclear how long the socialite would be jailed for.

Prosecutors argue she should spend at least 30 years in prison, citing her “utter lack of remorse”. In a sentencing note filed to the Manhattan court on Wednesday, prosecutors condemned Maxwell’s crimes and said: “Instead of showing even a hint of acceptance of responsibility, the defendant makes a desperate attempt to cast blame wherever else she can.”

<p>Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn, where Maxwell is being held</p>

Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn, where Maxwell is being held

Maxwell’s lawyers have argued she should be jailed for five years or less. In their sentencing note to the court on Wednesday, Maxwell’s legal team said she was deserving of leniency, arguing that it was “a travesty of justice for her to face a sentence that would have been appropriate for Epstein” – who killed himself in 2019 while awaiting trial for sex trafficking.

The lawyers wrote that Maxwell had other grounds for leniency, including her “difficult, traumatic childhood with an overbearing, narcissistic, and demanding father”.

They also noted that she had been in prison since shortly after her July 2020 arrest. Before her trial, the lawyers objected several times about the confinement conditions in the Brooklyn jail, including last November when Ms Sternheim likened them to Hannibal Lecter’s from the 1991 film The Silence of the Lambs.