Lawyers for Ghislaine Maxwell took prosecutors by surprise asking for a gag order on witnesses in her sex trafficking trial, according to court documents obtained Monday by the Daily Mail. Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein's longtime associate is facing six charges in court, which range from transporting a minor for the purposes of criminal sexual activity to conspiring to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts and perjury.
Monday, her lawyers filed an affidavit in a New York court, asking the judge to prevent prosecution witnesses from publishing information about the case online. Prosecutors appeared to be taken off-guard by the filing, filing a letter in response to Judge Alison Nathan claiming they had been negotiating with Maxwell's legal team "as recently as 6 p.m. last night" and were surprised by the gag request. Maxwell's attorneys also requested Nathan keep discovery materials from being published but wanted permission to identify witnesses and Maxwell’s alleged victims who have already come forward publicly.
"The defense believes that potential government witnesses and their counsel should be subject to the same restrictions as the defense concerning appropriate use of the discovery materials – namely, if these individuals are given access to discovery materials during trial preparation, they may not use those materials for any purpose other than preparing for trial in the criminal case, and may not post those materials on the Internet," the affidavit by Maxwell's lawyer, Christian Everdell, reads. "The defense believes it should not be restricted from publicly disclosing or disseminating the identity of any alleged victims or potential witnesses referenced in the discovery materials who have already identified themselves by speaking on the public record."
This surprising legal move comes following the ruling that a cache of previously sealed documents in a civil case against Maxwell is set to be turned over to the public this week. The documents are reportedly set to expose the details of Epstein's associate's sexual dealings. When the documents were unsealed by U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska in a Thursday teleconference, Maxwell’s defense team was given a week to file an appeal.
The files stem from a 2015 defamation lawsuit filed by Virginia Roberts, who accused Maxwell of sexually abusing her as a teenager and trafficking her to a number of rich men, including Prince Andrew. Following Maxwell's arrest, Epstein's former employer, Steven Hoffenberg, told The Sun the socialite would be "naming names" of the powerful men she had allegedly trafficked young girls to. "She's going to cooperate and be very important. Andrew is definitely, definitely concerned," Hoffenberg said.