A trove of court documents unsealed Thursday night appear to show that the late, accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was in contact with his now-charged confidant, Ghislaine Maxwell, in 2015.
Attorneys for Maxwell, who was arrested July 2, have argued that she hadn’t had any contact with Epstein for more than a decade, and is the target of overzealous prosecutors.
In one email between Epstein and Maxwell in 2015, Epstein appears to be composing a draft statement for Maxwell to release publicly. The date in January 2015 is a few weeks after one of Epstein’s alleged victims, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, first shared her story with a British newspaper.
In another typo-filled email a few days later, dated Jan. 25, 2015, “jeffrey E.” writes: “You have done nothing wrong and i woudl urge you to start acting like it. go outside, head high, not as an esacping convict. go to parties. deal with it.”
The emails refer to “Gmax” either in the recipient section or the email address.
That’s the name the FBI and federal prosecutors say Maxwell used when trying to set up a cell phone this past year in another person’s name. Prosecutors have contended this was one of the ways Maxwell sought to avoid detection and possible arrest.
The documents released Thursday night have been under seal for years, but Judge Loretta Preska last week ruled that a batch of documents from the case, including a deposition of Maxwell and correspondence between Maxwell and Epstein, could be released.
The documents are from a defamation case filed against Maxwell in 2015 by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who has alleged that Epstein sexually abused her and that Maxwell and Epstein directed her to have sex with other men between 2000 and 2002. The case, which Giuffre brought after Maxwell accused her of lying when she said Maxwell and Epstein had exploited and abused her, was settled privately.
The unsealed documents released Thursday also contain allegations that Jane Doe 3 — whose allegations match those of Giuffre — was “forced” to have sexual relations with Prince Andrew on Epstein’s private island in what was described as “an orgy” with numerous other under-aged girls. It does not specify the year. The woman was allegedly instructed by Epstein to “give the Prince whatever he demanded” and “report back to him on the details of the sexual abuse.”
Similar allegations against Andrew were ordered by a federal judge to be struck from court records in 2015 after being lodged as part of a lawsuit involving Epstein — but the judge did not rule on the veracity of the claims.
NBC News has reached out to Andrew’s representatives for further comment.
Some of Andrew’s supporters have long maintained that the royal had done nothing wrong, and pointed out that just because allegations are including in court papers it does not mean they are true.
Requests for comment from Maxwell’s attorneys were not immediately returned Thursday night.
Andrew has denied allegations he had sex with Giuffre, who says she was trafficked by Epstein when she was 17. The prince said that he had no recollection of ever meeting her or having any sort of sexual contact with her at any point.
A representative for Giuffre said Thursday night that she has no comment and is unable to comment because it is an ongoing legal case.
Maxwell, 58, was arrested at a remote New Hampshire mansion. She had not been seen in public since Epstein, her longtime associate, was arrested on sex trafficking charges last year.
She was charged in a six-count indictment that alleges she recruited and groomed underage girls, some as young as 14, who were sexually abused by Epstein in the mid-1990s. Prosecutors also alleged that in some cases she “participated in the sexual abuse of minor victims.”
The charges against Maxwell cover a time period before Giuffre met Maxwell and Epstein.
Maxwell pleaded not guilty at her arraignment and has previously denied all allegations of any improper sexual contact.
Epstein died by suicide in jail last summer while awaiting trial. Following his death, federal prosecutors vowed to continue the investigation and prosecute his enablers.
Maxwell had petitioned a judge for home confinement in a luxury Manhattan hotel, pending trial, according to court filings, but that request was denied.
Prosecutors have described Maxwell as an extreme flight risk, saying she has access to millions of dollars, extensive international contacts and citizenship in France, which does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.
The documents released Thursday were just part of the group the judge ruled on. Additional documents could be released as early as Monday.
Maxwell has appealed the release of documents that quote from or disclose information from her own deposition or that of a “John Doe 1” in the case to the Court of Appeals. If that court does not rule by Monday, those documents will also be unsealed and released then.
The disclosures Thursday night followed a day of high stakes legal drama as Maxwell’s attorneys tried multiple last-minute interventions to prevent the release of documents that had remained under seal for years.
Maxwell’s attorneys sought to submit materials under seal that had been ordered to be made public by a judge last week — and when that did not work, requested an emergency conference with the judge, which was also denied Thursday evening.
In Preska’s order for the release of the documents to go on as planned, the judge wrote: “The Court is troubled—but not surprised—that Ms. Maxwell has yet again sought to muddy the waters as the clock ticks closer to midnight.”
Thursday afternoon, Maxwell’s attorneys pleaded with a federal appeals court to keep the documents sealed, saying in part that Maxwell said things in her deposition — including “regarding her consensual adult sexual activity” — only because she was promised confidentiality.
They wrote that in light of her federal prosecution, any revelations from the unsealed documents “will forever let the cat out of the bag.”
Lisa Cavazuti, Julia Ingram and Phil Helsel contributed.