Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial is set to begin in federal court in Manhattan on Monday, with opening statements about the eagerly awaited case.
The first argument will set the stage for a six-week trial in which the British socialite’s alleged involvement in Jeffrey Epstein’s crimes will be broadcast in gruesome detail, detailing how prosecutors and defense lawyers will approach the proceedings.
Maxwell, 59, is accused of recruiting and grooming girls for the late disgraced financier from 1994 to 2004, some of whom were just 14 years old. Epstein’s one-time girlfriend is also accused of participating in the sexual abuse of teenage girls.
Epstein killed himself in Manhattan federal prison on August 10, 2019, while awaiting his own sex-trafficking trial. Maxwell was arrested in New Hampshire on July 2, 2020, a year after Epstein’s arrest.
“From the prosecution, you’d expect that they’ll put up their case and give a preview of the type of evidence that’s going to come, and a preview of who the witnesses will be, and they want to try what to expect in the first days of Maxwell’s trial. To present the full story of her case, said Jennifer Louis-Jean, a veteran defense attorney in New York City.
“The defense usually lags a little more in an opening statement because we don’t know what all the evidence is, and we want the jury to think really critically when they hear each and every witness — and who shouldn’t take the witness truth.” To say as to being just because they are on the stand, and to think about how all the witnesses fit together.”
Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor who now works on white-collar criminal defense at the Hinshaw & Culbertson firm, said prosecutors would be careful about what they tell the jury during the inauguration.
“As a prosecutor, you don’t want to promise more,” Weinstein said. “Though you have planned your case, but in the middle of the case things can happen, objections can arise, issues can get confused.
“And so it raises a reasonable doubt,” Weinstein said, allowing the defense to say: “They did not uphold the burden of proof.”
Maxwell is facing trial on six counts: conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, and enticing minors to travel to engage in illegal sexual acts. Conspiracy to transport with the intent to engage, transport a minor to criminal sexual activity, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and with intent to engage in sex trafficking of a minor.
The count cites four accused – listed in the indictment as Minor Victim-1, Minor Victim-2, Minor Victim-3 and Minor Victim-4 – although more are expected to testify.
Maxwell is also accused of lying under oath. Federal prosecutors have said that Maxwell tried to hide his involvement in Epstein’s acts by stating false information “under oath” during the civil trial. That lawsuit was a defamation case in which Epstein’s accuser Virginia Giuffre sued Maxwell.
Giuffre alleged that Epstein and Maxwell forced her to have sex with Prince Andrew at the age of 17. Giuffre sued Maxwell for saying he was a liar. Maxwell has insisted that he is innocent of all wrongdoing; The Duke of York also asserts his innocence. Maxwell will be prosecuted separately for allegedly lying under oath, meaning Giuffre’s claims will not be part of upcoming proceedings in New York.
Prosecutors allege that Maxwell met Minor Victim-1 when the girl was about 14 years old and interacted with her at Epstein’s homes. From about 1994 to 1997, the indictment alleges, Maxwell “formulated a minor victim-1 to engage in sexual acts with Epstein in a number of ways” and “inappropriately and, among other things, undressing in front of the minor victim.” demanded to normalize abusive conduct – being present while undressing in front of Epstein of Minor Victim 1 and Minor Victim-1″.
“Maxwell was present for and involved in some of this abuse,” the charge paper says.
Minor Victims-2 and Maxwell are alleged to have negotiated Epstein’s New Mexico property in 1996. Court papers said the juvenile came from out of state “at the invitation of Epstein for the purpose of being prepared for and/or subjected to acts of sexual abuse”. Maxwell is alleged to have known that the girl was under the age of 18.
Maxwell is alleged to have begun to frame the girl for abuse with Epstein, “by providing, among other things, an unwanted massage to Minor Victim-2 during which Minor Victim-2 was topless”. In addition, Maxwell is accused of “encouraging Minor Victim-2 to massage Epstein”.
From 1994 to 1995, Maxwell reportedly targeted Minor Victim-3 in London, including a time when she knew the victim was under the age of 18. He is alleged to have introduced the girl to Epstein, arranging “several conversations”, during which Maxwell urged the girl to massage him. Maxwell knew that Epstein would sexually abuse a minor during these encounters, court papers maintain.
Minor Victim-4 was lured into Epstein’s class to give Epstein a sexual massage and was paid for by one of his employees, Maxwell. She and Maxwell met in 2001, when the teenager was 14 years old. Maxwell and Epstein’s other associates are alleged to have called him to schedule a massage for the financier.
While Epstein is at large about the proceedings against Maxwell, it is unlikely that all of his acts will be disclosed in court. Judge Alison Nathan’s rulings have indicated she does not want Maxwell’s trial to turn into a referendum on whether she is being targeted because Epstein may not face justice in death.
Maxwell, who maintains his innocence, faces up to 80 years in prison if convicted.