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• The judge presiding over Ghislaine Maxwell’s criminal trial denied a 2020 request for a gag order.
• The press and the public are allowed in the courtroom and the press is providing reports from the courtroom.
A viral Facebook post presents a new twist on that false narrative, saying, "BREAKING: Judge in Ghislaine Maxwell trial issues media-wide gag order: all press & spectators barred from courtroom."
The post — which is a screenshot of a tweet from Tim Kennedy, a UFC fighter — also says, "We know who they are protecting and we can’t allow it!"
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The judge did not grant a gag order in the Maxwell trial, and press and the public are allowed in the courtroom. The press has been reporting on the courtroom proceedings since the first day of the trial on Nov. 29.
Maxwell is accused of helping Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse minors over several years beginning in the 1990s, a story that captured widespread media attention in 2018 due to the work of investigative journalists at the Miami Herald. Maxwell faces charges including enticing a minor to travel to engage in criminal sexual activity and transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.
In 2020, Maxwell requested a gag order that would have kept prosecutors, FBI agents and lawyers for some accusers from talking about the case outside of court. Her request was denied.
On Nov. 24, the presiding judge issued a court order that said the court "will facilitate substantial public and press access at the Courthouse." That includes allowing pool reporters and members of the public in the courtroom, as well as providing overflow courtrooms that have "substantial seating capacity."
Previous claims said that Maxwell’s trial is not being televised because of a hidden media agenda, but that is wrong. Maxwell’s trial is in federal court, where in most instances cameras and recording devices are not allowed. But courtroom artists are allowed to draw the proceedings in federal courts.
A Facebook post says, "BREAKING: Judge in Ghislaine Maxwell trial issues media-wide gag order: all press & spectators barred from courtroom."
Maxwell’s 2020 request for a gag order was denied.
On Nov. 24, the presiding judge issued an order indicating that the court would allow "substantial public and press access" for the trial. Press and the public are allowed in the courtroom, and the press has been reporting on the courtroom proceedings.
We rate this claim False.
Alison J. Nathan, United States District Judge, "Order," Nov. 24, 2021
Associated Press, "Maxwell, Epstein were ‘partners in crime,’ prosecutor says," Nov. 30, 2021
Facebook post, Nov. 28, 2021
New York Times, "What Happened on the First Day of the Ghislaine Maxwell Trial," Nov. 29, 2021
NPR, "As Ghislaine Maxwell trial opens, prosecutors allege a 'pyramid scheme of abuse,’" Nov. 29, 2021
PolitiFact, "Contrast in Rittenhouse, Maxwell trial coverage due to state and fed court rules, not hidden agenda," Nov. 22, 2021
PolitiFact, "No, the omicron variant was not timed to distract from the Ghislaine Maxwell trial," Nov. 30, 2021
Reuters, "Ghislaine Maxwell fails to block release of documents, obtain gag order: U.S. court rulings," July 23, 2020
Twitter post, Nov. 28, 2021
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