Lawyers handed in opening statements Monday in the long-awaited criminal the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, the longtime employee of the infamous sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Maxwell faces a six-point indictment for allegedly conspiring with and aiding Epstein in his sexual abuse of underage girls between 1994 and 2004.
A jury of five men and seven women was indicted earlier in the day, sparking a legal drama expected to continue for at least six weeks.
Preliminary statement by the prosecution
“I want to tell you about a young girl named Jane,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz told the jury.
Prosecutors have claimed that that Maxwell played a “key role” in a multi-state sex trade scheme, where she allegedly “became friends with” and later “lured and nurtured several underage girls to engage in sex acts with Epstein” and was sometimes “present” for and even involved in the abuse.
“Jane,” one of the three alleged minor victims expected to testify under pseudonyms at Maxwell’s trial, was only 14 years old when she allegedly met Maxwell and Epstein at a summer camp, Pomerantz said, beginning what she called “a nightmares that would last for years. “
“This man and this woman were predators,” Pomerantz said. “She knew what was going to happen to these girls. There were times when she was in the room when it happened.”
The Defense’s opening letter
Maxwell, who has been detained without bail since her arrest in July 2020, has pleaded not guilty to the charges and pleaded not guilty. On Monday, Maxwell’s defense attorney Bobbi Sternheim claimed that her client is merely a “convenient stand-in” for the late Epstein, whom she cast as the true criminal.
“Jeffrey Epstein manipulated the world around him and the people around him, including Ghislaine,” Sternheim said. “Ghislaine Maxwell is on trial because of her affiliation with Jeffrey Epstein.”
Sternheim also tried to undermine the forthcoming testimony of the alleged minor victims in the indictment, calling their stories “thin” and suggesting that the charges had been influenced by lawyers, the media and money. “False memories can be created,” she said, and each prosecutor has “shaken the money tree” of Epstein’s property.
The first witness
When the first day of the trial was over, the prosecution called its first witness, Epstein’s former pilot Larry Visoski, to take a stand.
Visoski talked about flights to St. Visoski. Thomas and elsewhere in connection with Epstein and characterized Maxwell’s relationship with Epstein as “couple-like” before the court exposed the day.
Maxwell, 59, is the youngest daughter of Robert Maxwell, the infamous British publishing baron, whose history of rags-to-riches captivated England. She is a graduate of Oxford lived an extravagant life among the British elite, until her father’s business empire collapsed in the wake of his death in 1991. She moved to New York, looking for a fresh start, and was soon seen in the company of the enigmatic multimillionaire Epstein, a one-time math teacher turned investor who socialized with powerful politicians, celebrities and business leaders around the world.
However, the government’s case against Maxwell is expected to circumvent some of the most headline-grabbing allegations involving Epstein and Maxwell. The couple’s most prominent public prosecutor, Virginia Roberts Giuffre – who has repeatedly claimed that Epstein and Maxwell recruited her for a life of sexual slavery and instructed her to have sex with prominent men – is not expected to be a witness in the trial.
Federal prosecutors have stated in pre-trial cases that they intend to tell jurors about the experiences of four women whose allegations are described in Maxwell’s indictment. Three of these women will be allowed by the court to testify under pseudonyms to protect their privacy. The fourth, Annie Farmer, has publicly identified herself as one of the alleged minor victims.
“As the facts set forth in this indictment make clear, the evidence in this case is strong,” prosecutors wrote in a claim to detain Maxwell pending trial. “Several victims have provided detailed, credible and verified information against the accused.”
From the beginning of the case, Maxwell’s legal team has attacked her prosecution as an attempt by the government to “replace” Maxwell for Epstein.
In 2007, Epstein reached a controversial so-called “sweetheart deal” with federal prosecutors in Florida to avoid charges stemming from his alleged sexual abuse of more than 30 underage girls. He eventually served just 13 months in a private wing of a county jail after pleading guilty to two prostitution-related charges in Florida State Court. One month after being indicted in a new indictment in New York in 2019, Epstein died of suicide while in federal custody in the now-closed Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan.
“Ghislaine Maxwell is not Jeffrey Epstein,” her lawyers wrote in the lawsuits. “She was not mentioned in the government indictment against Epstein in 2019, despite the fact that the government has been investigating this case for years. Instead, the current indictment is based on allegations that allegedly took place about 25 years ago. Ms. Maxwell strongly denies the prosecution, intends to combat them and is entitled to the presumption of innocence. “