Ghislaine Maxwell ‘preyed on vulnerable young girls,’ prosecutors allege in opening statement

There was a queue outside the New York court where Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial began on Monday, which was formed well before dawn. 

Manhattan federal prosecutors shared a message with jurors in their opening statement: “She knew what was going to happen to those girls.” Maxwell “preyed on vulnerable young girls, manipulated them and served them up to be sexually abused” by Jeffrey Epstein, said prosecutor Lara Pomerantz. “The defendant was trafficking kids for sex.

“Maxwell was Epstein’s best friend and right hand,” Pomerantz said of the late financier, who was arrested in July 2019 in relation to sexually abusing teen girls. “She was involved in every detail of Epstein’s life. The defendant and Epstein were partners in crime. She used the same excuse over and over to get the girls to touch Epstein – massage,” Pomerantz argued. “You’ll learn the cover of massage was the primary way the defendant and Epstein lured girls into sexual abuse.

“The defendant massaged Epstein in front of the girls, then encouraged the girls to massage Epstein,” she said. “But what was happening inside those massage rooms was not a massage – it was sexual abuse. Sometimes she was even in the room for the massages herself and sometimes, she touched the girls’ bodies,” Pomerantz continued. “And even when she was not in the room, make no mistake: she knew exactly what Epstein was going to do to those children when she sent them to him inside the massage rooms.”

The Oxford-educated daughter of British newspaper magnate Robert Maxwell has been in jail in Brooklyn since her arrest in July 2020. Her trial is taking place in downtown Manhattan. Maxwell has pleaded not guilty on six counts related to her alleged involvement in Epstein’s abuse of minors, some as young as 14 years old.

Bobbi Sternheim, Maxwell’s lead attorney, used an Old Testament flourish in arguing that Maxwell was getting punished for Epstein’s misdeeds. “Ever since Eve was accused of tempting Adam for the apple, women have been blamed for the bad behavior of men, and women are often villainized and punished more than the men ever are,” Sternheim said in her opening statement. “The charges against Ghislaine Maxwell are for things that Jeffrey Epstein did.

“But she is not Jeffrey Epstein. She is not like Jeffrey Epstein – and she is not like any of the other men, powerful men, moguls, media giants, who abuse women.”

Maxwell wore a cream-colored sweater and black pants. When she first walked into the courtroom at about 8.30am local time, Maxwell lifted her eyebrows and acknowledged her sister, who was seated in the first row. An Epstein accuser, Sarah Ransome, arrived at the courthouse shortly before proceedings began, telling reporters: “I never thought this day would come.”

Audrey Strauss, acting Manhattan US attorney at the time, contended that Maxwell “played a critical role in helping Epstein to identify, befriend and groom minor victims” and that “in some cases, Maxwell participated in the abuse”.

The Manhattan US attorney’s office has also accused Maxwell of trying to cover up her involvement in Epstein’s crimes by providing untrue information “under oath” during civil litigation. That lawsuit was the defamation case which Virginia Giuffre, a longtime Epstein accuser, brought against Maxwell. Giuffre has claimed Maxwell and Epstein coerced her into sexual activity with Prince Andrew when she was 17.

Giuffre sued Maxwell, who called her a liar. Both Maxwell and the Duke of York maintain their innocence. Maxwell is charged with two counts related to the alleged lying. Those will be tried in a separate proceeding.

The trial is scheduled to continue for six weeks, with the four alleged victims, their family members, and friends and family of Epstein set to testify. Ms Maxwell faces up to 80 years in prison if convicted on all accounts.  




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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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