A US judge has authorised the release of new records from a 2015 civil lawsuit against Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite and longtime Jeffrey Epstein associate who is facing criminal charges that she lured girls for the late financier to sexually abuse.
Over Maxwell's objections, US District Judge Loretta Preska in Manhattan said the presumption the public has a right to access large portions of the more than 80 documents at issue outweighed Maxwell's arguments for keeping them under wraps, including that they could prove embarrassing.
Preska also said personal identifying information contained in the documents, as well as the names of many "non-parties," will be redacted.
The documents will not be released immediately, after the judge granted Maxwell's lawyer a week to file an emergency motion with the federal appeals court in Manhattan to block the release.
Maxwell, 58, is being held in a Brooklyn jail after pleading not guilty on 10 July to charges she helped Epstein recruit and eventually abuse girls from 1994 to 1997, and committed perjury by denying knowledge of his abuse in depositions.
If the documents are released, they are likely to shed more light on Maxwell's dealings with Epstein, as well as Epstein's own conduct.
They include flight logs from Epstein's private jets, deposition testimony in 2016 in which Maxwell's lawyers said she was asked "intrusive" questions about her sex life, and police reports from Palm Beach, Florida, where Epstein had a home.
The documents were part of a defamation lawsuit by Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre against Maxwell, which was confidentially settled in 2017.
Giuffre has accused Maxwell of enabling Epstein to abuse her when she was underage. Maxwell has denied this.
Maxwell is trying to halt the dissemination of information that she believes could impede her defence in the criminal case, including out-of-court statements by prosecutors, FBI agents and lawyers for some accusers.
US District Judge Alison Nathan said in a separate order that a gag order was not needed now to protect Maxwell's right to a fair trial, but that she "will not hesitate" to act if needed.
Some records, including parts of Maxwell's deposition testimony, were unsealed on 9 August, 2019, one day after Epstein executed his will and one day before he was found hanged in his jail cell at age 66. His death was ruled a suicide.
Before his arrest Epstein had socialised over the years with many prominent people, including Britain's Prince Andrew, US President Donald Trump and former president Bill Clinton.
He reached a nonprosecution agreement with US prosecutors in Miami in 2007, and later pleaded guilty to state prostitution charges rather than face federal sex trafficking charges. That agreement is now widely seen as too lenient.