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Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers have released a photograph of her in prison showing a bruised face, the first picture of the British socialite since her arrest last year on sex trafficking charges.
The photo of Ms Maxwell, 59, was included in a letter filed on Thursday to a New York judge by attorney Bobbi Sternheim, who suggests she was injured while having to cover her eyes with a sock or towel at night because guards shine lights in her cell every 15 minutes.
“Last night, she was confronted by MDC (Metropolitan Detention Center) staff due to a visible bruise over her left eye,” Ms Sternheim wrote in the letter.
“MDC staff confronted Ms. Maxwell regarding the source of the bruise, threatening to place her in the SHU if she did not reveal how she got it,” she added, referring to the special housing unit.”
Ms Sternheim added that guards at the jail put inmates in the special housing unit if they have been injured or subjected to abuse by other inmates.
"While Ms. Maxwell is unaware of the cause of the bruise, as reported to medical and psych staff, she has grown increasingly reluctant to report information to the guards for fear of retaliation, discipline, and punitive chores," the attorney continued in the letter addressed to Judge Alison Nathan.
Ms Maxwell appeared to have aged in the nine months she has been at Brooklyn’s federal Metropolitan Detention Center, with sunken-looking cheeks.
She appeared in court last week to plead to new charges, appearing older and frailier, with greying hair and thinner frame.
Her lawyers claimed during a recent appeal for bail that Ms Maxwell was being held in far worse conditions than other inmates at the prison.
David Oscar Markus, another of Ms Maxwell's attorneys, said in his 23 years in the job he had "never seen a defendant treated so poorly."
"We just want a fair opportunity, a fair chance, so she can get ready for the trial of her life,' Mr Markus told an appeals court ahead of her mid-July hearing. "It's impossible to prepare for trial when you're getting no sleep."
They also claimed Ms Maxwell had lost hair and over 15 pounds in weight during her detention, due to the "inedible" prison food.
The British socialite is awaiting trial for sex trafficking and other charges related to her allegedly procuring underage girls for Jeffrey Epstein to abuse in the 1990s and early 2000s.
She has pleaded not guilty and faces trial this summer.
Ms Maxwell’s legal team allege she is being treated differently due to the “Epstein Effect”, saying she is being scapegoated for Epstein’s crimes following his suicide in prison last year.
They requested last week that guards no longer check on her though the night, arguing that she is not a suicide risk.
Judge Nathan on Thursday ordered that the government explain why she was being subject to surveillance and whether she could be provided with an eye mask if such measures were deemed necessary.