Ghislaine Maxwell trial: British socialite targeted young girls before “serving them for sexual abuse”, court said

Ghislaine Maxwell trial: British socialite targeted young girls before “serving them for sexual abuse”, court said

Ghislaine Maxwell targeted young girls and manipulated them before “serving them for sexual abuse,” said a US prosecutor in her opening statement in the New York trial of the British socialite.

The 59-year-old ex-girlfriend Jeffrey Epstein faces six counts of seducing minors and sex trafficking over a 10-year period.

At the start of her trial, prosecutors described the British socialite and Epstein as “partners in crime” who made the sexual abuse of teenage girls seem normal and occasional.

Maxwell could be sentenced to 80 years in prison if found guilty on all counts.

Courtroom sketch shows Maxwell seated at the defense table during the final stages of jury selection

The trial began after a slow start on Monday, with Maxwell appearing in court wearing a white long-sleeved top and a white-colored mask.

Twelve jurors and six deputies were sworn in after being selected to hear the case, which is expected to last six weeks and see four victims testify.

In her opening statement, U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz said Maxwell was targeting young girls for sexual abuse by Epstein.

“She preyed on vulnerable young girls, manipulated them and served them to be sexually assaulted,” she told jurors.

Ms Pomerantz also said Maxwell and Epstein “were dangerous predators who exploited and sexually abused” children for a decade.

She described Maxwell as “essential” to Epstein’s abuse of girls, in an attempt to undermine the expectations of the defense.
argument that she was unaware of his alleged crimes.

“Sometimes she was even in the room for the massages herself, and sometimes she would touch the girls’ bodies,” Ms. Pomerantz said.

“And even when she wasn’t in the room, make no mistake: she knew exactly what Epstein was going to do with those
children when she sent them to him inside the massage rooms.

Ghislaine Maxwell and her former partner Jeffrey Epstein

“She was in the game from the start. The accused and Epstein lured their victims with the promise of a bright future, only to sexually exploit them. “

In her opening statement on behalf of Maxwell, defense lawyer Bobbi Sternheim said: “Ever since Eve was blamed for tempting Adam with an apple, women have been blamed for what the men did. “

She said Maxwell was “nothing like Jeffrey Epstein”, adding that he was “the proverbial elephant in the room”.

“Yes, Jeffrey Epstein manipulated the world around him and the people around him, including Ghislaine,” Ms. Sternheim told jurors, adding, “Ghislaine Maxwell is on trial as Epstein’s scapegoat. “

Ms Sternheim said the case was about ‘memory, manipulation and money’ and argued that all four of Epstein’s alleged victims received multi-million dollar payments from a settlement fund set up by his estate, and had changed their history over the years.

Sarah Ransome, alleged victim of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, arrives at New York courthouse

Prosecutors called longtime former Epstein jet pilots Larry Visoski to the stand as the first witness in the case.

Epstein’s flights have been the source of close press scrutiny after it was discovered that former President Bill Clinton, Alan Dershowitz, Prince Andrew and a host of other celebrities had taken trips on his planes.

Mr Visoski said Maxwell sometimes informed him of Epstein’s upcoming travel plans and described Maxwell as “one of Mr. Epstein’s office assistants”.

The charges relate to four alleged underage victims in multiple locations from 1994 to 2004, the youngest claiming to be 14 at the time.

Judge spends hours arguing with potential jurors

The long-awaited trial did not start with a bang but a moan as Judge Alison Nathan spent four and a half hours arguing with potential jurors, Sky political correspondent Joe Pike reports from the courtroom. New York audience.

One of them was fired after admitting to discussing the matter with friends. Another complained of financial difficulties: they would not be paid by their boss for the duration of their jury duty – the judge called their employer and the paid leave was approved. A potential third juror said their spouse had booked a surprise Christmas vacation that would conflict with the trial.

Unlike a UK court where the accused is in a dock, Ghislaine Maxwell sat at a desk alongside her lawyers to take notes. The black mask and dark clothes she wore during the pre-trial hearings have now been replaced with a white mask and a light-colored sweater. His sister Isabel was also in court wearing a beret.

The 12-person jury with six alternates have now been sworn in and warned not to communicate with anyone about the case, including friends and family. “You agree to resist this temptation,” Judge Nathan said.

U.S. prosecutors allege that Maxwell – a former employee and love partner of Epstein – earned the girls’ trust by taking them to the movies, sending them gifts such as lingerie and discussing sexual matters, according to an act of charge of 2021.

Maxwell also faces two counts of perjury who will be tried separately.

She pleaded not guilty to all counts.

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Who is Ghislaine Maxwell?

His lawyers say prosecutors are using the daughter of late British media mogul Robert Maxwell as a scapegoat after being unable to convict Epstein.

American financier Epstein committed suicide aged 66 in 2019 in Manhattan jail cell pending trial on allegations of sexual abuse.

“Left without fish to try to fry, the government belatedly turned to Ms Maxwell,” her lawyers wrote in a February 4 filing.

A line of people, mostly journalists, wait to enter the courthouse for the start of Ghislaine Maxwell's trial in New York
A line of people, mostly journalists, wait to enter the courthouse for the start of Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial in New York

Maxwell’s lawyer Ms Sternheim told jurors on Monday that Epstein “was like a 21st century James Bond,” adding: “His mystery has sparked interest. His accusers rocked the money tree and millions of dollars fell in their way. “

Prosecutors also said Maxwell encouraged the girls to massage Epstein fully or partially nude.

In some cases, Epstein or Maxwell would pay the girls or offer them money for travel or education.

“The victims felt in debt and thought Maxwell and Epstein were trying to help them,” prosecutors wrote in the indictment.


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