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Judge Releases Trove Of Sealed Records Related To Lawsuit Against Ghislaine Maxwell

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

A federal judge has unsealed hundreds of pages of deposition transcripts and other documents related to a now-settled defamation suit brought against Ghislaine Maxwell, who is accused of helping the late Jeffrey Epstein run a sex trafficking operation that catered to rich and powerful men.

The 47 documents include a deposition given by Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre, the draft of a memoir she was writing about her experiences inside the sex-trafficking ring, and previously unseen email exchanges between Maxwell and Epstein.

A centerpiece of the documents remains sealed: Maxwell's own deposition transcripts from 2016. U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska granted a stay on those records and a transcript from "John Doe 1" until Monday to give Maxwell's defense team time to seek a stay in appellate court.

Maxwell, Epstein's ex-girlfriend, was charged earlier this month on several counts related to sex trafficking of minors and perjury. She has pleaded not guilty in that case. Giuffre brought the 2015 defamation suit after the British socialite accused her of lying when she alleged Epstein and Maxwell had sexually abused and exploited her.

Some of the documents released late Thursday night are being seen publicly for the first time; others have been released before but now have different or no redactions.

In an excerpt of Giuffre's deposition in May 2016, she said Maxwell and Epstein ordered her to have sex with men by telling her to give them a "massage."

"And when they say massage, they mean erotic, OK?" Giuffre said, adding later, "That's their code word."

At one point, the attorney questioning Giuffre ran down a list of prominent men with whom she said she was told to have sex.

"Other than Glenn Dubin, Stephen Kaufmann, Prince Andrew, Jean-Luc Brunel, Bill Richardson, another prince, the large hotel chain owner and Marvin Minsky, is there anyone else that Ghislaine Maxwell directed you to go have sex with?"

"I am definitely sure there is," Giuffre replied. "But can I remember everybody's name? No."

A similar list of names appeared last year in court documents unsealed in the federal case against Epstein on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges. Many of those men have denied the allegations against them. When NPR contacted Richardson, the former New Mexico governor, last year, a spokesperson said, "The charges are completely false."

In that same deposition, Giuffre also said she was sent to have sex with former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, and that she first had sex with famous attorney Alan Dershowitz at Epstein's residence in New York. Last summer, both men denied meeting Giuffre.

The records also include an email exchange in which Epstein protests his innocence and appears to provide Maxwell with a statement to the media or a set of talking points that she might use in defending herself against the allegations.

Maxwell had been the "target of outright lies, innuendo, slander, defamation and salacious gossip and harassment," the email said, using language that pushed back against "false allegations of impropriety and offensive behavior that I abhor and have never ever been party to."

A few days later, responding to an email from Maxwell, Epstein wrote: "You have done nothing wrong and I (would) urge you to start acting like it." He urged her to "go outside, head high, not as an (escaping) convict. go to parties. deal with it."

Preska ordered the documents unsealed last week after Maxwell attorney Laura Menninger made a last-minute appeal to keep them from going public, arguing that they could damage her defense.

Preska ordered "many" of the case's documents to be released last week, but she gave Menninger one week to file an emergency appeal with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. As she granted that delay, Preska also ordered both sides in the case to prepare for the records to be unsealed — including making any necessary redactions.

Even so, Preska criticized Maxwell's defense team, saying the court was "troubled — but not surprised — that Ms. Maxwell has yet again sought to muddy the waters as the clock ticks closer to midnight."

The defamation case generated more than 1,200 court docket entries, but many important documents have never been exposed. The case's docket report described more than 50 records as "SEALED DOCUMENT placed in vault."

Giuffre has said Epstein arranged for her to have sex with powerful men, including Britain's Prince Andrew. The alleged abuse took place at Epstein's many properties, she said, including in Florida, New York and on his private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The prince has denied the allegations. In recent months, federal prosecutors in New York have repeatedly said they would like to speak to Andrew, who is seen in a widely circulated photograph with his arm around Giuffre's waist, with Maxwell smiling in the background. In her deposition, Giuffre said Epstein took the photo, using her camera.

Epstein's social life also included ties with President Trump and former President Bill Clinton, who has distanced himself from Epstein.

In one record from 2011, Giuffre said she had seen Clinton at Epstein's private island, adding that it was during a trip that included two young girls from New York.

"You know, I remember asking Jeffrey what's Bill Clinton doing here kind of thing, and he laughed it off and said well he owes me a favor," Giuffre told attorney Jack Scarola in a phone interview. "He never told me what favors they were. I never knew. I didn't know if he was serious. It was just a joke."

Clinton has denied visiting Epstein's island. And on Friday, his spokesman reiterated, "The story keeps changing, the facts don't. President Clinton has never been to the island."

Giuffre's case against Maxwell was settled in 2017, but Giuffre had insisted many of the records should be made public. The Miami Herald and investigative reporter Julie K. Brown — whose work has helped substantiate the accusations against Epstein — also sought the records' release.

The two sides wrestled over a central argument: Giuffre said it would serve the public interest to open access to the records. Maxwell said that to do so would unfairly harm people whose names appear in the documents. And with Maxwell now facing criminal charges, her attorney, said releasing the records would jeopardize her client's right to a fair trial.

As now, many of those records are finally coming to light.

Maxwell, 58, is currently in a federal jail in Brooklyn, N.Y.

"Maxwell was among Epstein's closest associates and helped him exploit girls who were as young as 14 years old," Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said after Maxwell was arrested this month.

Maxwell has denied allegations linking her to Epstein's exploitation of girls and young women, including under sworn testimony. But federal authorities now accuse her of committing perjury during depositions.

In legal records about Epstein, Giuffre was once known only as "Jane Doe No. 102." But she decided to speak out publicly "in hopes of helping others who had also suffered from sexual trafficking and abuse," according to her lawsuit against Maxwell.

Giuffre has said she fell under Maxwell and Epstein's influence when she was a teenager working at Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach, Fla., resort owned by Trump. At the time, her father was working in the maintenance division at the resort. She has previously said she met Maxwell in 1999, when she was 15; in her deposition, Giuffre cites employment records as showing she was 16 when they met, in 2000.

Giuffre said Maxwell recruited her to give Epstein a massage – and alleged that years of sexual abuse followed, including instructions for Giuffre to have sex with Epstein's friends.

Epstein never faced a federal trial over the crimes of which he was accused. Roughly a month after his arrest on sex trafficking charges last summer, he died after being found unresponsive in his jail cell in Manhattan. His death at age 66 was ruled a suicide.

Accusations against Epstein have long been obscured by legal maneuvers — such as a controversial nonprosecution agreement he reached in 2007 with federal prosecutors in Florida. That plea deal with then-U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta exposed Epstein to state charges but prevented him and any co-conspirators from being prosecuted for federal sex crimes in southern Florida.

Under the deal, Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 to two counts of solicitation of prostitution — one with a minor under the age of 18 — and was sentenced to 18 months in a county jail. He was also required to register as a sex offender. But the wealthy hedge fund manager was allowed to leave incarceration for work five days a week and was released five months early.

As part of the 2007 deal, Acosta agreed to a "confidentiality" provision in which his office agreed not to tell Epstein's victims about the nonprosecution agreement until after it won a judge's approval. Last year, a federal judge ruled that the arrangement had violated the Crime Victims' Rights Act.

Several women who have accused Epstein and Maxwell of serial sexual abuse nearly got a chance to tell their stories in court for the first time in late 2018 as part of a separate defamation case. But Epstein settled that dispute at the last minute, blocking the women's bid to testify against him.

Weeks after Epstein's death, around 20 of his accusers got a chance to speak out against him in court, telling their stories before a judge ruled on prosecutors' request to dismiss the case. One of the women, Teala Davies, called it "a day of power and strength."

At times, Giuffre writes in the draft of her memoir that was released, being in Epstein and Maxwell's inner circle was like being in "this really perplexed family."

"We did everything together similar to normal families like eat dinner, watch TV, and travel," she says, "it was only the hedonistic and corrupt side to these two deviates that made them a peculiar pair."

The records show that in the early stages of Giuffre's discussions with attorneys about her experience, she had declined to identify men she says Epstein and Maxwell told her to have sex with.

"I just, some of these people are really influential in power, and I don't want to start another s***storm with a few of them," she told Scarola in 2011.

"I'm really scared of where this is gonna go," she added.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.