Ghislaine Maxwell has been placed on suicide watch, her lawyer announced Saturday, just days before the Jeffrey Epstein associate faces sentencing after being found guilty of sex trafficking in Dec. 2021.
According to a letter from Maxwell’s attorney Bobbi Sternheim to the judge overseeing the case, Maxwell was removed from general population at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center and put in solitary confinement before Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, where Maxwell faces what an expert told Rolling Stone could be “the rest of her life in prison.”
However, Sternheim added that, after speaking in person to his client, Maxwell is “not suicidal,” and that she was placed on suicide watch without a psychological evaluation and “without justification,” CNN reports. “A psychologist evaluated Ms. Maxwell and determined she is not suicidal,” the lawyer wrote.
The situation, Sternheim argued, could be grounds to postpone Tuesday’s sentencing hearing; prosecutors have argued that Maxwell serves at least 30 years behind bars for her role in procuring young woman for Epstein, while Maxwell’s defense team have asked for a more lenient sentence of less than 20 years.
A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in Manhattan declined to comment to Reuters about Maxwell’s move to suicide watch, where she is forced to wear a “suicide smock” and had her clothes, soap, toothbrush and writing instruments taken away, Reuters reported.
“If Ms. Maxwell remains on suicide watch, is prohibited from reviewing legal materials prior to sentencing, becomes sleep deprived, and is denied sufficient time to meet with and confer with counsel, we will be formally moving on Monday for an adjournment,” Sternheim wrote to the judge.
In August 2019, Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide while in custody awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges; the disgraced financier’s death came 12 days after he was removed from suicide watch, where he was placed following an alleged failed suicide attempt a month earlier.