Trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, alleged accomplice of Jeffrey Epstein, set to start Monday
The trial of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who is accused of helping her close confidant Jeffrey Epstein recruit and sexually abuse underage girls, is set to begin on Monday, more than two years after the convicted sex offender’s sudden death in prison.
A jury of 12 individuals and six alternates will be empaneled at the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, where they will hear testimony in what is expected to be a six-week trial, according to The Washington Post.
Maxwell, 59, has been charged with six counts for allegedly helping Epstein facilitate a sex trafficking scheme: conspiracy to entice a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to transport a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors and sex trafficking of minors.
Maxwell, who has pleaded not guilty to all charges, is facing a maximum of 70 years in prison, according to the Post.
Jury selection for the case began earlier this month, with Judge Alison Nathan questioning a pool of 231 potential jurors.
The highly anticipated trial comes more than two years after Epstein was found dead in his jail cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center.
The New York City medical examiner ruled in August 2019 that Epstein died by suicide from hanging.
In a July 2020 indictment, prosecutors alleged that Maxwell and Epstein during the 1990s “exploited girls as young as 14, including by enticing them to travel and transporting them for the purpose of engaging in illegal sex acts.”
They said Maxwell “played a critical role in the grooming and abuse of minor victims” in New York, Florida and New Mexico, adding that she acted “knowing that Epstein had a preference for young girls.”
Four alleged victims are slated to testify during the trial using pseudonyms, according to a ruling from Nathan cited by the Post. Other witnesses will also be allowed to appear before the jury without disclosing their true names publicly to safeguard their identities.
Prosecutors are expected to make the case that Maxwell recruited young girls to meet Epstein by saying they would be financially compensated for their massages and that she worked to “normalize” the young girls taking their clothes off in front of Epstein at his home, according to the Post.
They will also argue that when Epstein started asking the girls to perform sexual acts, they felt trapped and unable to object to the requests, the Post reported.
Maxwell, however, has asserted that she used to work for Epstein and concentrated on managing his portfolio and properties across the globe, according to the newspaper.
Her lawyers will reportedly call psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, a “false memory” specialist, to testify. Loftus appeared before the jury on behalf of the defense during the trial of Harvey Weinstein, making the point that memories can be distorted.
Maxwell is being held in a New York prison while awaiting trial after being denied bail a number of times.
She is also facing two separate counts of perjury in connection with a sworn deposition, but a date for that trial has not yet been scheduled, according to the Post.
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