A lawyer for Ghislaine Maxwell has released the first photograph of the accused sex trafficker since she was arrested last year, showing the former socialite with a bruise under her eye.
Prison guards demanded to know how Ms Maxwell sustained the injury.
Ms Maxwell’s lawyer, Bobbi Sternheim, attached a photo of the black eye to a letter to US District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan, who is overseeing Ms Maxwell’s criminal case.
Guards at the Brooklyn jail housing Ms Maxwell, 59, confronted her on Wednesday night (local time) about the bruise and threatened to put her in a separate housing unit if she didn’t explain its origin, according to the letter.
Ms Sternheim reportedly wrote: “Last night, she was confronted by MDC staff due to a visible bruise over her left eye.
“No guard addressed the bruise until Ms Maxwell, who has no mirror, caught a reflection of her aching eye in the gleam of a nail clipper.
“At that point, MDC [Metropolitan Detention Centre] staff confronted Ms Maxwell regarding the source of the bruise, threatening to place her in the SHU [special housing unit] if she did not reveal how she got it.”
Ms Sternheim said Ms Maxwell did not know where the bruise came from, but suggested it could be from her using a sock or towel to shield her eyes because guards shine light into her cell every 15 minutes, to ensure she is breathing and has not committed suicide.
Neither jail officials nor the US Attorney’s unit in Manhattan, which is prosecuting Ms Maxwell, immediately responded to requests for comment.
Ms Sternheim did not immediately respond to a similar request. Her letter did not say who took the photo.
Late on Thursday, Judge Nathan ordered prosecutors to explain by May 5 whether and why jail officials might be subjecting Ms Maxwell to nightly “flashlight surveillance”, and whether she could receive “appropriate eye covering”.
Lawyers for Ms Maxwell have complained repeatedly about her confinement, saying the conditions undermine her preparation for her scheduled July 12 trial.
Ms Maxwell is awaiting trial for sex trafficking and other charges over her alleged role in procuring four teenage girls for Jeffrey Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 2004.
Epstein killed himself in jail in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
Ms Maxwell lost her latest bail hearing on the grounds that she is a flight risk, and is now likely to remain in jail until her trial in July.