The judge presiding over the case against a British socialite charged with recruiting teenage girls for financier Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse said Friday that her attorneys are not permitted to identify accusers publicly even if they’ve spoken in a public forum, the Associated Press reports. “Not all accusations or public statements are equal,” said U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in the case facing Ghislaine Maxwell. “Deciding to participate in or contribute to a criminal investigation or prosecution is a far different matter than simply making a public statement ‘relating to’ Ms. Maxwell or Jeffrey Epstein, particularly since such a statement might have occurred decades ago and have no relevance to the charges in this case.” She said the women “still maintain a significant privacy interest that must be safeguarded.”
Prosecutors asked Nathan to block Maxwell’s lawyers from publicly identifying the women unless they identified themselves as participants in the case. Otherwise, prosecutors said, the women may be harassed or intimidated and become reluctant to cooperate with the government. Nathan’s order came after newly unsealed court documents provided a fresh glimpse into a civil court fight between Maxwell, who was Epstein’s former girlfriend, and one of the women who accused the couple of sexual abuse. The documents were from a now-settled defamation lawsuit filed by one of Epstein’s alleged victims, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who claimed that Maxwell recruited her in 2000 to be a sexual servant to Epstein. She said the couple subsequently pressured her into having sex with numerous rich or notable men, including Britain’s Prince Andrew, U.S. politicians, wealthy entrepreneurs, a famous scientist and fashion designer. Maxwell, and all of the accused men, have denied those allegations.