Editor’s Note: Frank Report stories about Ghislaine Maxwell are intended to examine issues of due process and are not a defense of sex trafficking, which Maxwell is charged with. As a first principle of due process, Maxwell is innocent until proven guilty. Since her case is a high profile one, and because most people, I assume, are convinced she is guilty, her case is especially apt for the study intended.
The recent “Ghislaine Maxwell doesn’t flush her toilet” filing may be a spurious one by prosecutors for the US Department of Justice for the Southern District of New York [SDNY].
True or not, it made national news, as prosecutors knew it would.
They must know the facts about the malodorous toilet in her 6’x9′ isolation cell at the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center where she is being held awaiting trial.
She is detained in Brooklyn, in the Eastern District of New York, because her alleged coconspirator, Jeffrey Epstein, was held at the SDNY’s detention center, the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where he was permanentlycorrected.
In a letter to Judge Alison Nathan, prosecutors, who are required to periodically update the judge about Maxwell’s conditions at MDC, allege guards have to force Maxwell to flush her toilet and clean her cell.
Prosecutors wrote, “MDC staff directed the defendant to clean her cell because it had become very dirty. Among other things, MDC staff noted that the defendant frequently did not flush her toilet after using it, which caused the cell to smell,” they wrote.
Maxwell, 59, is awaiting trial, charged with sex trafficking four minors, in conspiracy with the late Epstein, when she was in her thirties, alleging crimes that occurred between 1995-2001. She is also charged with perjury, based on statements she made in a civil case where she denied “recruiting” girls for Epstein.
According to our legal correspondent, K.R. Claviger, “Ghislaine has been held in a cell all by herself — and her cell is located in a unit that has no other inmates — which means that, in effect, she has been in ‘solitary confinement’ for almost a year now. She’s also located in the dreaded East Tower at MDC — which had been mostly shut down because of the HVAC and electrical problems there.”
Maxwell has been in solitary for more than 280 days.
Claviger notes, “There are several mini-units at MDC that house small groups of inmates who would not do well in general population — and Maxwell could be safely located in one of those to avoid the stress of solitary confinement.”
According to Claviger, “Recent studies have documented that long stints of solitary confinement can do long-term and/or permanent mental damage to prisoners. According to the United Nations treatise on this topic, prolonged solitary confinement — which the U.N. defines as greater than 15 days — is cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment, and harmful to an individual’s health.”
Inside MDC. Photo published in Daily Mirror
According to her attorney, Bobbi Sternheim, Maxwell flushes her toilet frequently, like normal people, who do not even have their toilet inches from their bed, do.
“The government’s letter provides the opportunity to flush out the persistent unsanitary conditions at the MDC, which long predate Ms. Maxwell’s detention,” Sternheim wrote to Judge Nathan.
“This past weekend there was a pervasive stench of sewage in Ms. Maxwell’s unit necessitating guards to flush pipes by pouring water down open drains in an effort to trap and disperse gaseous emissions,” Sternheim wrote. “At times the stench in Ms. Maxwell’s isolation cell has been overwhelming due to overflowing of toilets in the cellblock above.”
She added that Maxwell tries not to use the bathroom in her cell, “due to lack of privacy.”
Her siblings, who have created a website to support Maxwell, say, “She is under round-the-clock surveillance by multiple guards and cameras, including one mobile camera that captures her every move.”
To hear prosecutors tell it, conditions are reasonable for Maxwell. They say she has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and does not face harassment by guards.
Apparently, she has been provided with a Bible, and a computer to work on her case.
Her family paints a different picture.
They write, “The physical conditions of her confinement are more restrictive than most pretrial detainees have ever faced… Ghislaine is daily subjected to a range of invasive procedures. These include multiple physical searches a day, including having guards looking inside in her mouth (i.e., no social distancing); and the pointing of a flashlight into her isolation cell – where she is held approximately 12 hours every day – every 15 minutes during the night, making sleep impossible for her.
“Her cell consists of a 6ft x 9ft space, with a concrete bed and toilet… There is no flat surface in her cell for her to work on the legal documentation… The drinking water is full of contaminants… Food has been fed to her on plastic trays that have melted when exposed to microwaved heating, making the food inedible and unsafe. There is no natural light in the cell, only fluorescent lights so bright that they hurt her eyes.”
According to Claviger, “The administration at MDC could easily find a small unit and place Ghislaine in it. But since she’s really not their problem — she’s going to be tried in the SDSY — I’m sure they’re just being extra cautious.”
Cautious is right. Over at the MDC, they do not want to be blamed for something awkward happening to her as it did for Epstein.
The issue is did the SDNY mislead Judge Nathan about conditions – specifically an unwillingness to flush a toilet in a cell the size of a closet – to “dirty her up” and humiliate her before the public and in the judge’s eyes?
Perhaps Judge Nathan might consider an inquiry into this toilet, perhaps requiring an independent investigation of Maxwell’s cell and surrounding environs, to find out if she was misled.
It is not the toilet that is paramount, but whether prosecutors should be held to telling the truth.
Judge Nathan might choose to visit in person. She would find Maxwell, in khaki trousers, a brown tee-shirt, brown smock top, and blue canvas slip-on shoes, ready to welcome her to a cell about the size of a closet, with its now notorious toilet adjacent to the concrete bed. It will be easy enough to see with fluorescent lights blaring bright enough to give one a headache.
The discerning Judge Nathan could quickly find out if SDNY prosecutors were telling the truth about her toilet flushing habits, or if it is, as Maxwell’s lawyer says, a longstanding sewage problem above her floor.
It is important, for, as you readers know, the inference for liars in all trials everywhere is “falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus.”
If someone lies about something, it is reasonable to infer they will lie about anything, from flushing a toilet, to how Jeffrey Epstein died.
To give readers a look at what Ghislaine Maxwell’s prison cell might look like, these photos of Alcatraz, a prison considered by some to be on par with the MDC, will give an indication. Based on descriptions by former inmates of MDC, these pictures give a pretty good indication of what her 6×9 “home” looks like at MDC.