FACT CHECK: Did The Judge Presiding Over Ghislaine Maxell’s Trial Issue A ‘Media-Wide Gag Order’?

Mecca Fowler | Contributor

An image shared on Facebook claims the judge presiding over Ghislaine Maxwell’s criminal trial has issued a “media-wide gag order.”

Verdict: False

The presiding judge has not issued any gag order. Both the press and the public have access to the trial.

Fact Check:

The criminal trial of Maxwell, the ex-girlfriend and confidant of deceased convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, began on Monday, BBC News reported. She has been charged with recruiting and grooming underage girls for Epstein to abuse, to which she has pleaded not guilty, according to the outlet.

An image shared on Facebook shows a screen grab of a Nov. 28 tweet that alleges there will be no media coverage of the trial. “BREAKING: ‘Judge In Ghislaine Maxwell Trial Issues Media-Wide Gag Order: All Press & Spectators Barred From Courtroom,” reads the tweet. (RELATED: Does This Telephone Number And Access Code Allow People To Remotely Listen To Ghislaine Maxwell’s Trial?)

However, Judge Alison J. Nathan, who is presiding over the case, has issued no such gag order. Nathan actually denied Maxwell’s request to block public statements from lawyers, prosecutors and federal agents about the trial back in July 2020, according to Reuters. She also issued a Nov. 24 order stating that, consistent with the court’s COVID-19 protocols, a “number of pool reporters and members of the public will be permitted in the courtroom proper as managed by the District Executive’s Office.”

In addition, press will be “able to access the trial in dedicated overflow courtrooms for the press,” and members of the public “will also be able to access the trial in overflow courtrooms in the Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse,” according to the order. The overflow rooms at the courthouse will have “substantial seating capacity available” and “live video and audio feeds of the proceeding,” the order also states.

The order does mention Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 53, which states that federal courts “must not permit the taking of photographs in the courtroom during judicial proceedings or the broadcasting of judicial proceedings from the courtroom.” The claim may stem from confusion regarding that rule, which applies to Maxwell’s trial.

Since it began on Monday, Maxwell’s trial has been widely covered in media outlets such as The New York Times, the Associated Press and The Washington Post.

Mecca Fowler