NEW YORK: Jailed former socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has been placed on suicide watch -- despite not being suicidal -- according to her lawyers, who said they would move to postpone her sentencing for sex trafficking if she remained in isolation.
“Ms. Maxwell was abruptly removed from general population and returned to solitary confinement” on Friday, attorney Bobbi Sternheim wrote in a letter Saturday to Judge Alison Nathan.
She has been denied access to legal documents and time to meet with lawyers and this has “prevented her from preparing for sentencing,“ which is set for Tuesday, he added.
Maxwell, who was convicted in New York federal court for helping the late financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse girls, was placed on suicide watch without a psychological evaluation “and without justification,“ Sternheim said.
A psychologist evaluated the 60-year-old on Saturday and “determined she is not suicidal,“ he added.
If Maxwell remains on suicide watch, her lawyers will move on Monday to postpone her sentencing, Sternheim said.
The Oxford-educated daughter of the late British press baron Robert Maxwell was convicted late last year on five of six sexual abuse counts, the most serious for sex trafficking minors, and her sentence could amount to an effective life term behind bars.
Prosecutors have asked that Maxwell receive between 30 and 55 years in jail.
Her lawyers have called on Nathan to hand down a sentence less than the US probation office’s recommended 20 years, citing a traumatic childhood and claiming that Maxwell is being unfairly punished because Epstein escaped trial.
Epstein killed himself in 2019 while awaiting his own sex crimes trial in New York.
Maxwell has already been held in detention for some two years following her arrest in New Hampshire in the summer of 2020.-AFP