Ghislaine Maxwell’s defense keeps the spotlight on Epstein and other powerful men – .

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Ghislaine Maxwell’s defense keeps the spotlight on Epstein and other powerful men – .


British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell is accused of sex trafficking, but in the first five days of testimony in a New York courtroom, her lawyers brought her late boss, Jeffrey Epstein, and his famous friends to justice, according to reports. legal experts.

This strategy quickly became evident on the first day of the long-awaited trial when lawyer Bobbi Sternheim, in her opening statement, dived into the book of Genesis in defense of Maxwell.

“Ever since Eve tempted Adam with the apple, women have been blamed for men’s bad behavior,” Sternheim said. “She’s not Jeffrey Epstein, she’s not like Jeffrey Epstein. “

In fact, Maxwell’s defense team are subtly trying to portray her as Epstein’s first victim, experts have said.

Defense lawyer Bobbi Sternheim points the finger at Ghislaine Maxwell during a preliminary hearing on November 23. Jane Rosenberg / Reuters

“In an effort to make Maxwell ‘Eve’ to Epstein’s ‘Adam’, as his attorney suggested in the opening statement, we can expect the defense to do everything in their power to keep the spotlight on his manipulative and preparatory behavior, ”said Deborah Tuerkheimer, professor of law at Northwestern University, who for five years was an assistant attorney in the New York County attorney’s office.

The defense is also keeping the spotlight on powerful men who were in Epstein’s orbit, such as former President Donald Trump and Britain’s Prince Andrew, experts said.

“The defense has signaled its intention to put Epstein at the center of this trial,” Tuerkheimer said. “By describing him as charismatic, well connected, almost larger than life, his team may well be hoping to make Maxwell disappear into the background. Epstein’s life of fame and wealth can grab the attention and focus of the jury, increasing the chances of Maxwell appearing as a purely peripheral figure in the story.

Robert Sanders, a retired Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps captain and head of the University of New Haven’s national security department, said the strategy pursued by Maxwell’s attorneys can be compared to a #MeToo defense.

“The #MeToo movement is not over,” he said. “The defense is trying to argue that Epstein and all of these men were involved, but they’re not available to be prosecuted, but we have it. “

Epstein, a convicted sex offender, hanged himself two years ago in a Manhattan prison awaiting trial for sex trafficking.

On day three of Maxwell’s trial, another member of his legal team, Laura Menninger, spoke about Trump, a neighbor of Epstein who had partied at the financier’s mansion in Palm Beach, Florida.

Menninger asked Jane – a pseudonym for the first of four women in this trial who accused Maxwell, 59, of ‘treating’ them as minors to have sex with Epstein and other powerful men – to confirm that she was being driven by Epstein to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach to meet with the future president when she was only 14 years old.

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell at Cipriani Wall Street on March 15, 2005, in New York City. Patrick McMullan via Getty Images File

During his cross-examination of Jane, an actress by profession, Menninger did not insist on her obtaining details of his meeting with Trump or of alleging that he had abused her in any way.

She also didn’t have to, California defense attorney Jesse Gessin said.

“The famous name cross-examination strategy serves several purposes for the defense,” he said. “First, the general theme of the Maxwell team is that Ms. Maxwell is a scapegoat. The government’s failure to prosecute these individuals supports this central theme.

Further, said Gessin, “the defense should have as much undisputed fact as possible in its narrative in each case.”

“With an issue as widely covered by the media as this, most, if not all, of the jurors know these names are associated with Epstein,” he said. “To ignore or disavow these names would be a technical error. ”

In fact, the first of seven people who testified during the opening week of the Maxwell trial was longtime Epstein pilot Larry Visoski.

Flights on Epstein’s private planes became the subject of media scrutiny after it was discovered that Andrew, son of Queen Elizabeth II, and other names in bold such as former President Bill Clinton and lawyer Alan Dershowitz had taken trips on his planes. There are no allegations of trafficking against Clinton and Dershowitz.

Visoski, in his testimony on Tuesday, also mentioned that several other well-known men, such as former astronaut and Senator John Glenn, actors Kevin Spacey and Chris Tucker, and violinist Itzhak Perlman, have flown on airplanes. Epstein. He said Trump was a repeat aviator before he became president.

“There have been more than once, I think,” he said. “I certainly remember President Trump, but no one else associated with him. “

Trump, who once called Epstein a “great guy,” did not respond to NBC News requests for comment.

After Epstein’s arrest in 2019, Trump told reporters that he was “not a fan” of the disgraced financier.

The four women Maxwell is accused of trafficking, mostly in the 1990s, have been given pseudonyms to protect their privacy. Jane’s ex-boyfriend, an actor who said she told him Maxwell and Epstein seduced her when she was 14, spoke under the pseudonym Matt.

Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to all six counts against her. His trial in the Southern District of New York, which is expected to last another five weeks, resumes Monday.

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