A judge on Monday delayed the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite and close confidant of Jeffrey Epstein, who is accused of helping Epstein recruit and sexually abuse teenage girls between 1994 and 2004.
Maxwell’s trial, which was set to start on July 12, will now begin in the fall, according to court documents.
Maxwell’s lawyers requested that the trial be delayed after federal prosecutors unveiled two new charges against their client in March, including one count of sex trafficking conspiracy and one count of sex trafficking of a minor.
Maxwell, 52, pleaded not guilty to the two new charges last month
Her attorneys argued that they needed additional time to prepare their defense as a result of the new charges.
U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan approved the request on Monday so Maxwell’s defense could “prepare for the additional charges” brought in March.
She wrote that the charges filed in March “added a significant burden to the defense’s preparation for trial,” and that the defense counsel’s preparation efforts “have been and to some extent continue to be hampered by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Travel constraints and other safety concerns resulting from the pandemic have slowed trial preparation and complicated the logistics of conducting investigations,” Nathan added.
Nathan ordered prosecutors and lawyers for Maxwell to jointly propose a trial start date by May 10. She urged them to agree to “the earliest possible date this fall.”
“No additional delay is necessary or in the interests of justice,” Nathan added.
The Hill has reached out to Maxwell’s team for comment.
Reuters previously reported on the the trial delay.
Maxwell now faces an eight-count indictment for allegedly helping carry out a sex trafficking scheme by Epstein, who died in jail while awaiting trial in August 2019.
In addition to the charges brought against her in March, Maxwell was previously charged with four counts related to conspiracy to entice minors to travel and engage in illegal sex acts and two counts of perjury for allegedly lying to prosecutors.
Maxwell made headlines last week when her lawyers provided a photo of her from jail with a bruise under her eye, which they argued is likely a result of the continuous overnight flashlight surveillance she is subject to.
In March, Maxwell was denied bail for a third time, while she awaits trial in a New York prison.
—Updated at 8:24 p.m.