In the first photo released of Ghislaine Maxwell since she ended up behind bars nearly a year ago, Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged madam is nearly unrecognizable—and has a black eye.
Released Thursday by her lawyer, the photo is sure to escalate the long-simmering battle between Maxwell’s legal team and the feds over the conditions of her incarceration at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. Maxwell’s lawyer, Bobbi Sternhem, has particularly objected to the jail guards’ nightly practice of shining a light into Maxwell’s cell every 15 minutes.
Maxwell isn’t exactly sure how she got the bruise, which she only noticed because she “caught a reflection of her aching eye in the glean of a nail clipper,” Sternheim wrote in a letter to U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan. “There is concern that the bruise may be related to the need for Ms. Maxwell to shield her eyes from the lights projected into her cell throughout the night.”
Maxwell’s legal team has sent letter after letter after letter after letter to Nathan, protesting various aspects of Maxwell’s treatment at the Brooklyn jail. Just this week, Sternheim alleged that guards had wrongly confiscated some of Maxwell’s legal papers.
An attorney for Maxwell also argued this week, to judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, that the nightly checks on the former socialite were unnecessary and driven by officials’ fear that Maxwell would die in a similar way to Epstein, who died by hanging in July 2019 in a Manhattan jail. (His death was ruled a suicide.) There’s evidence that Maxwell is suicidal, her attorney said.
Federal prosecutors have argued that checks are a regular part of guards’ routine, and done to ensure that people are still breathing. Prosecutors have also repeatedly maintained that, despite claims of Maxwell’s physical deterioration, the ontime socialite is still healthy and is treated the same as other people held at the Metropolitan Detention Center.
Maxwell also tried to secure bail multiple times, to no avail. Despite her attorney’s pleas to the 2nd Circuit, her fourth bid for bail was denied just this week.
Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges of sex trafficking and perjury. Her trial is tentatively scheduled for this summer.