May 4 (UPI) -- A federal judge has delayed the sexual misconduct trial of socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who faces charges in connection with accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, until the fall.
The U.S. district judge made the decision late Monday so that defense attorneys have more time to prepare for new charges filed recently by New York prosecutors.
The judge also said COVID-19 protocols also have made trial preparations more difficult.
The trial for the British socialite, Epstein's former girlfriend, was originally set to begin in July.
Maxwell faces charges on six federal counts of conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, and transportation of minors to engage in criminal sexual activity for helping Epstein groom and recruit underage girls between 1994 and 1997, prosecutors say.
In March, prosecutors filed a superseding, eight-count indictment adding new charges of sex trafficking conspiracy and sex trafficking of a minor. That case involved Maxwell being accused of recruiting and grooming a 14-year-old girl to engage in sex acts with Epstein as recently as 2004.
Maxwell pleaded not guilty to those charges last month. Monday, Judge Alison Nathan postponed the trial until an undetermined date in the fall. A precise date could be determined as soon as May 10, when defense attorneys are required to provide an acceptable start date.
Maxwell, 59, who's being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, has been in federal custody since last summer when the court deemed her a flight risk. The court has repeatedly turned back Maxwell's past requests for bail, saying it doubted she would comply with any conditions.
Defense attorneys have previously said they wanted to delay the trial to as late as January, saying the new charges have doubled the size of the federal case.
Epstein committed suicide in federal prison in New York City in August 2019 while awaiting trial on multiple charges of sex trafficking.