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Judge Rules On Ghislaine Maxwell Witnesses’ Plea For Anonymity

Judge Rules On Ghislaine Maxwell Witnesses’ Plea For Anonymity

The Ghislaine Maxwell trial is progressing, and a big question has arisen: if sex-trafficking victims can testify anonymously for the prosecution, can the defense also have anonymous witnesses? Judge Alison J. Nathan released a ruling on the issue Thursday morning.

[Photo by Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images]

Witnesses in criminal cases can retain anonymity under certain circumstances, such as when the prosecution relies on an anonymous informant or when witness protection is necessary for safety. In Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial, where she stands accused of helping Jeffrey Epstein entice minors into sexual abuse, three anonymous witnesses have already appeared.

These three, however, are accusers, who leveled allegations that Maxwell facilitated their abuse. A Reuters analysis of their testimony describes the accusers as testifying that she instructed them in procedures such as providing full-body massages to adult men, while they were minors themselves.

Judge Alison J. Nathan was asked for permission for three witnesses for the defense to do the same — testify anonymously on Maxwell’s behalf. It’s not clear in what context they were to provide defense or evidence in her favor, but Judge Nathan has ruled that the defense’s premise is flawed.

Reorter Adam Klasfeld of Law & Crime shares:

The New York Times queried legal experts, who said they’d never heard of a case in which witnesses for the defense were allowed to testify anonymously.

Maxwell’s attorney, Bobbi C. Sternheim, expressed in her request for anonymity for these witnesses that they might be unwilling to testify without the protection of anonymity, which, she said, would hurt Maxwell’s ability to defend herself effectively.

However, as seen in the ruling above, Judge Nathan responded, pointing out that the motion relied largely on the notion that if the prosecution gets anonymous witnesses, the defense should as well, and said, “The Court disagrees with that basic premise and denies the defense’s motion.”

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