By JAMES HILL, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — An attorney for Ghislaine Maxwell, the former companion of sex-offender Jeffrey Epstein, has issued the first on-the-record response to the criminal indictment against Maxwell for perjury and sex crimes against minors, calling the federal charges “meritless.”
“The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York on June 29, 2020, caused a meritless indictment to be issued against Ms. Maxwell,” wrote Laura Menninger, a Colorado-based lawyer who represents Maxwell in both the criminal case and multiple civil lawsuits.
The court filing comes in Maxwell’s answer to a separate civil lawsuit brought against Maxwell and Epstein’s estate in January by an anonymous accuser, Jane Doe, who alleges that she was first approached by the pair in 1994 at a summer music camp in Michigan, when Doe was 13 years old.
“Jane Doe was their first known victim and was subsequently abused by Epstein and Maxwell for years as a young girl, suffering unimaginable physical and psychological trauma and distress,” her complaint alleges. “Maxwell also regularly facilitated Epstein’s abuse of Doe and was frequently present when it occurred.”
Maxwell was arrested by federal authorities last week in New Hampshire and is facing a six-count federal indictment alleging that she conspired with Epstein in a multi-state sex trafficking scheme involving three unnamed minor victims between 1994 and 1997. Prosecutors contend Maxwell not only “befriended” and later “enticed and groomed multiple minor girls to engage in sex acts with Epstein, through a variety of means and methods,” but was also, at times, “present for and involved” in the abuse herself.
The details in Doe’s lawsuit are substantially similar to the allegations pertaining to one of the three minor victims that are detailed in the federal indictment of Maxwell.
Maxwell’s attorney noted in the Thursday filing that Maxwell was answering Does’ complaint “to the extent that she can without waiving the right against self-incrimination under the United States and New York constitutions and otherwise will invoke that right.”
“Ms. Maxwell’s denials of factual allegations [in Doe’s lawsuit] shall be interpreted the same as pleading not guilty to the various counts in any criminal indictment,” Menninger wrote.
According to Doe’s civil complaint, “Epstein’s system of abuse was facilitated in large part by his co-conspirator and accomplice, Maxwell, who helped supply him with a steady stream of young and vulnerable girls – many of whom were fatherless, like Jane Doe, and came from struggling families.”
In the Thursday night court filing, Maxwell issued broad denials to nearly every allegation in Doe’s complaint and argued that whatever damages may have been suffered by Doe, they were not caused by Maxwell.
“[Does’s] damages, if any, were the result of her own conduct,” her attorney wrote, contending that Doe had “voluntarily or negligently assumed a known risk” and had “consented to the alleged conduct.”
Maxwell’s attorney contends that the case should be dismissed and is barred by statutes of limitations.
Doe’s attorney Robert Glassman told ABC News Thursday that “Ms. Maxwell is once again deflecting blame on the victims themselves for the significant role she played in causing the victims irreparable damage. We are disappointed that she is taking this position, but look forward to holding her responsible for what she did.”
Maxwell has not yet entered a plea to the criminal charges. She is currently being held at a federal jail in Brooklyn. Federal prosecutors argue that she is an extreme flight risk and should be held in custody until trial. A bail hearing is scheduled for July 14.
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