A lawyer for financier Jeffrey Epstein’s ex-girlfriend has asked a judge presiding over her sex crimes case to impose a gag order on lawyers and others to reduce prejudicial pre-trial publicity and protect her chances of a fair trial.
The lawyer, Jeffrey Pagliuca, filed a letter in Manhattan federal court citing public comments made by Acting US Attorney Audrey Strauss, the head of New York’s FBI office and lawyers for accusers of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell after her July 2 arrest in Bradford, New Hampshire.
He said the comments show that an order is necessary to prevent “prejudicial pretrial publicity by the government, its agents, and lawyers for alleged witnesses.”
In particular, he cited comments at a news conference by William Sweeney, head of New York’s FBI office, that referenced Ms Maxwell as “one of the villains in this investigation” and compared her to a snake that “slithered away to a gorgeous property in New Hampshire.”
Earlier in the day, President Donald Trump offered words of comfort to Ms Maxwell.
“I just wish her well, frankly,” Mr Trump said when asked about Ms Maxwell during a news conference on Tuesday.
Ms Maxwell, 58, was refused bail last week and is to remain behind bars as she awaits trial on charges she recruited girls for the disgraced financier to sexually abuse more than two decades ago.
The British socialite was a romantic partner of Epstein, who authorities say killed himself in prison several weeks after being charged with sex trafficking.
An indictment alleged that Ms Maxwell groomed the victims to endure sexual abuse and was sometimes there when Epstein abused them. It also alleged she lied during a 2016 deposition in a civil case.
Epstein associated over the years with many high-profile figures in politics and business, including Mr Trump, former President Bill Clinton, Britain’s Prince Andrew and the retail mogul Leslie Wexner.
“I’ve met her numerous times over the years, especially since I lived in Palm Beach, and I guess they lived in Palm Beach,” Mr Trump said of Ms Maxwell.
Mr Trump said that he hadn’t been following Ms Maxwell’s case very closely.
Responding to a reporter’s question, Mr Trump concluded by saying: “I don’t know the situation with Prince Andrew. Just don’t know. Not aware of it.”
One of Epstein’s accusers has claimed that she had sex with Andrew, who is a son of Queen Elizabeth II, at Ms Maxwell’s direction.
Andrew has denied that woman’s allegation.
But federal prosecutors have said that they want to question Andrew, the Duke of York, about his relationship with Epstein.
“Just don’t know. Not aware of it,” Mr Trump said of the allegations against Andrew, who withdrew from public duties in Britain last year after a disastrous interview with the BBC.
Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 to state charges in Florida of procuring a person under 18 for prostitution and felony solicitation of prostitution.
He served 13 months, most of it on work release program at a county jail.