Epstein’s partner Maxwell is on trial Monday for sex crimes

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New York (AFP) – The long-awaited sex crimes trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite accused of treating underage girls for the late financier Jeffrey Epstein, is set to begin on Monday in front of a crowded federal courthouse in Manhattan.

The 59-year-old daughter of the late press baron Robert Maxwell faces a life sentence if convicted in New York of child sex trafficking for Epstein, her former lover who committed suicide in prison ago more than two years.

After the death of Epstein – a multi-million dollar fund manager who befriended countless celebrities, including Britain’s Prince Andrew – prosecutors vowed to prosecute the co-conspirators, which resulted in resulted in Maxwell’s arrest in July 2020.

She has since been held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn – where she complained of unsanitary and inhumane conditions – under rigorous surveillance which one of her attorneys compared to the serial killer surrounding her Hannibal Lecter in “The silence of the lambs “.

Maxwell’s alleged crimes occurred between 1994 and 2004, and involve four anonymous women, two of whom say they were only 14 and 15 when they were sexually assaulted.

Prosecutors say Maxwell befriended girls with shopping and movie trips, later prompting them to give Epstein nude massages at his various residences, during which he allegedly engaged in sex acts before giving them money.

U.S. government attorneys say Maxwell was involved in the alleged abuse at times, at his London home and at Epstein’s properties in New Mexico, Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida.

Epstein died at the age of 66 in a Manhattan jail in August 2019 while awaiting trial for child sex trafficking, in what the official New York coroner ruled was suicide.

Perjury Fee

The 12 jurors and six alternates who will decide Maxwell’s fate will be officially seated on Monday. The trial, which is taking place in Thurgood Marshall’s US courthouse in lower Manhattan, is expected to continue until mid-January.

Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to all six counts, including sex trafficking of a minor, and faces up to 80 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

Britain’s Prince Andrew has vehemently denied claims he had sex with Virginia Giuffre when she was 17 JEAN THYS AFP

The French-born heiress was also charged with two counts of perjury. These charges should be tried after his trial for sex crimes.

The charges relate to testimony she gave in 2016 in a libel case filed against her by Epstein’s accuser Virginia Giuffre.

Giuffre alleges that Epstein loaned her out for sex with her wealthy and powerful associates, including Prince Andrew.

Maxwell, a longtime friend of Andrew’s, is known to have introduced the prince to Epstein.

Giuffre sued the royal in New York City, alleging he had sex with her over 20 years ago, when she was 17 and a minor under US law.

This civil trial should be heard by a jury at the end of 2022.

Prince Andrew has not been criminally charged and has “unequivocally” denied the allegations.

Giuffre, now 38, is not part of the criminal case against Maxwell.

Risk of theft

Alleged victims are expected to testify that Maxwell exploited a network of girls and young women who were taken across state lines to provide sex acts and sexualized massages to Epstein, for which they were paid hundreds of dollars. .

The defense maintains that Maxwell is only being tried because Epstein escaped justice.

Maxwell, pictured in 2003, faces a life sentence if convicted of recruiting underage girls for late financier Jeffrey Epstein
Maxwell, pictured in 2003, faces a life sentence if convicted of recruiting underage girls for late financier Jeffrey Epstein Laura Cavanaugh GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP / File

They indicated that they would attack the credibility of the accusers by referring to allegations of prior drug addiction.

They also intend to question their memories of the events by calling psychologist Elizabeth Loftus – an expert on “false memories” – to the stand.

During the trials of Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, she testified that memories distort over time, especially during interrogations years later.

The prosecution intends to call psychologist Lisa Rocchio to testify on common strategies used to prepare children, such as building confidence before normalizing sexual contact.

The lawsuits against Maxwell come after the convictions of Weinstein and singer R. Kelly, cases that have also seen the defense rely – ultimately unsuccessfully – on credibility challenges.

“The atmosphere is ripe for business like this,” former prosecutor Julie Rendelman told AFP.

But, she added, “it’s still difficult to deal with accusations that took place so many years ago.”

Epstein was convicted in Florida in 2008 of paying young girls for massages, but only served 13 months in prison under a secret plea deal.

Holding multiple passports, Maxwell has been denied bail six times, with judges considering her a flight risk.

She is considered unlikely to testify.

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