'Crushing experience' awaits Ghislaine Maxwell at troubled jail
Prosecutors in Manhattan have accused the socialite of luring underage girls so that Jeffrey Epstein could sexually abuse them.
Ghislaine Maxwell was detained on Monday in a troubled U.S. jail in Brooklyn where she will undergo humiliating searches and be denied nearly all possessions, a far cry from the luxury estate where she was arrested as an accused accomplice of Jeffrey Epstein.
Maxwell, 58, arrived at the federal Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn on Monday and is expected to appear in a Manhattan courtroom on Friday when a judge will consider a government request to detain her without bail.
"You go from living a life like Maxwell to all of a sudden being in a situation where you're being strip-searched and having people look into your body cavities," said Cameron Lindsay, a former warden at the MDC. "That is a crushing experience."
Christian Everdell, a New York lawyer for Maxwell, did not respond to a request for comment.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have accused the socialite of luring underage girls so that Epstein could sexually abuse them at lavish mansions in Palm Beach, Florida; New Mexico and Manhattan.
Epstein was awaiting trial on federal charges of trafficking minors between 2002 and 2005 when he was found hanging by his neck in a different federal jail in New York City in August. Medical examiners concluded his death was a suicide.
Epstein's demise added to the mystery of his rise from a high-school math teacher to a globe-trotting money manager with powerful connections that victims said allowed him to abuse minors with impunity.
Lindsay said MDC officials will have to weigh whether to keep Maxwell in her 10-foot-by-12-foot (about 3-metre-by-3.7-metre) cell alone or housed with another female prisoner.
A cellmate might help prevent her from attempting suicide, a critical issue following Epstein's death, but Lindsay said the nature of her charges and her high profile also makes her a target.
For other prisoners, injuring Maxwell "would be a badge of honour," said Lindsay.
Maxwell's life with Epstein was one of private jets, Caribbean islands and partying with luminaries including Prince Andrew of the United Kingdom.
After Epstein's arrest, she was hiding out on a 156-acre (63-hectare) estate in New Hampshire and had access to 15 bank accounts with combined balances that at times topped $20 million (Dh73.46 million), according to court records.
At the MDC, Maxwell will be issued a T-shirt and other basic clothing, a thin mattress, pillow and blanket. She may be allowed to have an approved religious medallion or book, such as the Bible, according to Lindsay.
Detainees "have nothing of their personal property," he said.
Her new location, with a capacity of 1,600 men and women, has had its share of famous residents, including singer R. Kelly, accused of sex abuse, and Martin Shkreli, a former chief executive convicted of defrauding investors and dubbed "pharma bro" by New York tabloids.
Lindsay said the jail is known among Bureau of Prison staff for its problems over the years.
Last year a lawsuit alleged a "humanitarian crisis" was unfolding at the jail after a power failure at the centre left prisoners enduring days of frigid temperatures in dark cells.
At the start of the Covid-19 crisis in New York in March, the MDC was among the jails that judges declined to send defendants because of fears about overcrowding and the spread of the novel coronavirus.
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