Sitting on the cold concrete cell floor, legs crossed, prisoner 02879-509 carefully balances the laptop on her knees as she sets to work reading the latest tranche of legal documents.
For up to 13 hours each day she sits, her back propped up against the steel toilet, and scrolls through an astonishing 2.5 million pages of evidence that will decide whether she returns to her life of unbridled luxury – or spends the rest of her days behind bars.
Today marks Day 168 of Ghislaine Maxwell’s incarceration in solitary confinement inside New York’s notorious Metropolitan Detention Center.
Last night, as her high-powered legal team fought to have the 58-year-old former socialite released on $28.5 million (£21 million) bail in time for Christmas, one of Maxwell’s close friends opened up to The Mail on Sunday about the reality of her life behind bars.
‘Ghislaine’s being treated worse than a terrorist or murderer,’ claimed the friend. ‘She’s lost 24 lb, her hair is falling out and she hasn’t exercised or been allowed to step outside into fresh air since she entered jail on July 6.
‘At the beginning, when she had nothing to do, she was psychologically in a very bad place, just staring at the walls. Very tearful, angry, upset.
A high-powered legal team fought to have the 58-year-old former socialite released on $28.5 million (£21 million) bail in time for Christmas. Pictured: Courtroom sketch of Maxwell appears by video link in July
But now she’s reading through the government documents, she’s feisty and ready to fight. She believes there is not a single piece of evidence in those 2.5 million pages which corroborates any charges against her.’
Maxwell stands accused of helping her former boyfriend, convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, recruit and sexually abuse girls as young as 14 between 1994 to 1997, and of lying about her role as his alleged ‘pimp and madam’ when she was deposed in a 2016 civil lawsuit.
She denies all the charges, but if convicted, the Oxford-educated friend of Prince Andrew faces up to 35 years in prison.
Last week it emerged that Maxwell and her ‘secret’ husband of four years, Scott Borgerson, 44, are so convinced of her innocence that they will risk every penny they have – a joint fortune of £16.3 million – to secure her bail.
Meanwhile, a group of family and friends, believed to include her brother Kevin, 61, and twin sisters Isabel and Christine, 70, have offered to put their homes and assets on the line to make up the rest of the bail money.
‘Ghislaine is determined to clear her name and prove her innocence,’ said the friend.
‘She and her spouse have put everything they own on the line. Her legal fees alone are $7 million. She wants her day in court.’
Just as determined are prosecutors from the Southern District of New York and women who claim Maxwell used her position to lure vulnerable girls into Epstein’s orbit where he – and allegedly she – sexually abused them.
Late on Friday night, US Attorney Audrey Strauss filed a withering 36-page reply to Maxwell’s bail application, portraying her as a cold, conniving liar and conwoman who wouldn’t hesitate to flee to escape justice should Judge Alison Nathan grant her request for bail – a decision that could come as early as tomorrow.
Today marks Day 168 of Ghislaine Maxwell’s incarceration in solitary confinement inside New York’s notorious Metropolitan Detention Center (pictured)
While Maxwell’s ‘devastated’ husband wrote a passionate letter to the judge saying that ‘the Ghislaine I know is a wonderful and loving person’ and insisting their life together was so idyllic she would never run, prosecutors dropped a bombshell by claiming the socialite told them she was ‘in the process of divorcing’ Mr Borgerson when she was arrested.
Prosecutors said: ‘Although the defendant now claims her marriage would keep her in the United States, her motion does not address the plainly inconsistent statements she made to Pre-trial Services at the time of her arrest when… she said she was in the process of divorcing her husband.’
In a letter to Judge Nathan, Annie Farmer, one of the three victims that Maxwell stands accused of sexually abusing, wrote: ‘I believe that she is a psychopath. Her abuse of me and many other children and young women is evidence of her disregard for and violation of the rights of others.
‘She has demonstrated a complete failure to accept responsibility in any way for her actions and demonstrated a complete lack of remorse for her central role in procuring girls for Epstein to abuse.
‘She was both charming and manipulative with me during the grooming process, consistent with what many of the women she abused have described.
‘She has frequently lied to others, including repeatedly lying about me and my family. Maxwell has for decades lived a parasitic lifestyle relying on Epstein and others to fund her lavish existence.’
Not true, says Maxwell’s friend, who insists that an innocent woman is behind bars. ‘She’s been made a scapegoat. Knowing a criminal is not a crime. There was no investigation into Ghislaine until Epstein killed himself.’ The friend said the victims ‘want a scalp, and Ghislaine’s it’.
Detailing a ‘tortuous’ life in prison, she added: ‘Ghislaine has been in solitary confinement in a 10ft by 12ft cell since she got there. Guards flash lights in her eyes every 15 minutes throughout the night.
‘There are two cells, one where she sleeps and another one where she showers and has access to a computer. She’s been reading through the 2.5 million pages of documents submitted by the government. She does not have a desk.
Last week it emerged that Maxwell and her ‘secret’ husband of four years, Scott Borgerson, 44, are so convinced of her innocence that they will risk every penny they have – a joint fortune of £16.3 million – to secure her bail. Pictured: Maxwell and Borgerson together in 2013
‘She works on the computer sitting on the floor propped up between the toilet and the cell wall because that’s the only place she can plug in the computer power cord. There have been no visits since August because of an outbreak of Covid at the prison.
‘She’s the thinnest she’s been in her life, including when she was modelling. Sometimes the guards forget to add protein to her meal.
‘There was one weekend when she only had bread to eat for two days. She’s severely underweight. She’s become obsessive about food because she’s not getting proper nutrition.
‘Psychologically it’s been very tough. She’s constantly searched. Her cell is searched. Her hair’s falling out from stress. She never gets proper sleep. She’s not even allowed to have a cup – she has to cup her hands and the guard pours water into her hands.
‘Prisoners in the general population get three hours exercise a day. She gets none. She goes between the cell where she sleeps to the cell where she works on the computer.
‘She has not stepped outside, has not breathed fresh air since she got there. It’s more akin to torturing terrorists than something a civilised society would do.
‘Under the Geneva Convention, solitary confinement lasting more than two weeks is torture. She’s been in solitary since July.’
The friend is adamant the relationship with husband Mr Borgerson is ‘genuine, sincere and loving’ and that any comments she made after her arrest ‘were simply to protect him’, adding: ‘Anyone who comes into contact with her is toxic. He has children. He has family. Of course she didn’t want to risk placing those people in danger.
‘Since Epstein’s suicide she’s been hunted like an animal by the press. There have been hundreds of death threats,’ the friend said.
Maxwell stands accused of helping her former boyfriend, convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, recruit and sexually abuse girls as young as 14 between 1994 to 1997
While Mr Borgerson was first linked with Maxwell earlier this year, the fact they have been married since 2016 only emerged in last week’s court filings.
Described as ‘the strong, silent type’, he met Maxwell at an eco-conference in 2013. In a photograph which came to light last week, Mr Borgerson is pictured wearing a wedding ring as he beams beside Maxwell.
At the time he was married to his first wife Rebecca, mother of his two children, aged 13 and nine.
He is an unlikely romantic conquest for a social gadfly who not only dated billionaire Epstein but also had a long-term relationship with IT tycoon Ted Waitt and maintained close friendships with Prince Andrew and US ‘royalty’ such as former President Bill Clinton.
‘By the time Ghislaine met Scott she was at a different place in life,’ said the friend. ‘She was running TerraMar [her oceanographic charity] and was focused on philanthropy.’
While Maxwell grew up in luxury as the daughter of press baron Robert Maxwell, Mr Borgerson comes from more humble beginnings.
His father Chris is a former US marine who served as deputy sheriff in a small town in Missouri before retiring. His mother Sara taught French at the local high school.
Mr Borgerson was so religious as a young man that he considered becoming a priest before enrolling in the US Coast Guard.
From there he became a special adviser at the prestigious think-tank the Council on Foreign Relations and an expert on global warming in the Arctic Ocean.
In 2010, he started his own tech company, CargoMetrics, which processes data-analytics for maritime trade and shipping.
Ghislaine is to be ‘treated worse than a terrorist or murderer,’ a friend claims – losing 24 lb, her hair falling out and hasn’t exercised or been allowed to step outside into fresh air since she entered jail on July 6
‘Both of them share a love of conservation – that’s what drew them together, shared interests,’ said the friend.
Mr Borgerson and Rebecca married in Palm Beach, Florida, in May 2001. In divorce papers obtained by MailOnline, she accused him of being ‘extremely controlling’ and attacking her during a fight in June 2014.
He hit back, describing her as ‘erratic’, but they have subsequently insisted that their relationship is now ‘strong, loving and focused on the health and happiness of our young children’.
Their divorce was finalised at the end of 2015, around the same time that Maxwell completed the sale of her £11.8 million New York townhouse and moved into Mr Borgerson’s £1.5 million ocean-front mansion in Massachusetts.
‘Ghislaine became a homebody, she settled down to family life,’ said the friend. ‘People see photographs of her with celebrities and famous people, but those are from her previous life in New York.
‘When she married she craved nothing more than a quiet family life. The Ghislaine of the past four or five years is light years away from the image painted in the media.’
Prosecutors allege that Maxwell ‘lied’ about her wealth when she was arrested, claiming she was ‘only’ worth £2.5 million while cleverly ‘hiding’ the bulk of her £14.8 million fortune in joint trusts with her husband to protect that money from victims should she be convicted and the inevitable civil lawsuits follow.
Untrue, insists the source. ‘The idea this is somehow a marriage of convenience, an arrangement to protect her money is, quite frankly, insulting. I’ve seen them together. They are deeply in love.
‘When Epstein committed suicide she became a hunted animal. She never tried to evade justice. There was never any investigation into Ghislaine until Epstein killed himself. Now they want a scalp.’
Maxwell is also of lying about her role in Epstein’s alleged ‘pimp and madam’ when she was deposed in a 2016 civil lawsuit
Those views are not shared by a chorus of victims who say Maxwell is nothing more than a callous sexual predator.
Lawyer Lisa Bloom, who represents six victims, said: ‘Women who were victimised by Ms Maxwell suffer every day. We have zero sympathy for her. We look forward to her trial and to a jury holding her accountable for her crimes.’
The US government’s filing on Friday rejects much of what her friend claims. Prosecutors insist her weight has remained stable (her friend says the scales were not set to zero and gave a false reading), that she gets three meals a day and checks during the night are for her own safety.
They rubbish allegations that she is being mistreated. ‘She is released from her isolation cell for 13 hours per day [to use the laptop], has her own shower, has her own phone to use and has her own television,’ the document states.
‘Following initial complaints about the defendant’s diet early in her incarceration… [she] receives three full meals per day and has access to the commissary from which she can supplement her diet.
‘The searches [she] complains of… searches of her cell, pat-downs when she is moved and directing her to open her mouth for visual inspection are the same searches to which every other inmate is subjected to for the security of the institution.’
Last night, Maxwell remained in solitary confinement. Gone is the person who posed on a throne next to actor Kevin Spacey at Buckingham Palace and loved Prada and Jimmy Choo shoes. Now she wears prison-regulation brown overalls. Even her close confidante admits that it is ‘unlikely’ she will be granted bail.
She is set to go on trial next July when a jury will decide whether those brown prison overalls will replace her designer wardrobe on a permanent basis.