New York, NY – The trial of 59-year-old Ghislaine Maxwell, the long-time girlfriend of the late Jeffrey Epstein, kicked off on Monday morning in a Manhattan courthouse.
Maxwell is facing a six-count indictment that alleged that between 1994 and 2004, she conspired with Epstein and aided in his recruitment, enticement, and trafficking of underage girls, according to ABC News.
Charging documents accused Maxwell of having played a “key role” in helping Epstein manage his multi-state sex trafficking scheme.
Prosecutors said Maxwell “befriended” and then “enticed and groomed multiple minor girls to engage in sex acts with Epstein,” ABC News reported.
The complaint also alleged that Maxwell was also “present for and involved” in some of the abuse of the girls.
“Maxwell was among Epstein’s closest associates, and helped him exploit girls who were as young as 14 years old,” Audrey Strauss, then the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, told reporters when she announced Maxwell’s arrest in July of 2020.
Epstein’s long-time girlfriend had gone into hiding after he was arrested as he got off a flight from Paris in July of 2019, CNN reported.
But then Epstein was found dead in his jail cell on Aug. 10, 2019.
Epstein’s family hired a well-respected forensic pathologist to observe the autopsy, and former New York City Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Baden determined that the millionaire’s body showed more signs of homicide than suicide.
A federal investigation determined that the corrections officers tasked with guarding Epstein slept on the job and falsified check-in logs, and then the security videos of his apparent suicide went missing from the jail.
Two correctional officers were indicted in connection with Epstein’s death, charged with conspiracy and multiple counts of falsifying records.
Maxwell was arrested a year after Epstein was taken into custody, when federal authorities raided a rented home where she was living in New Hampshire.
The British socialite has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges and claimed to be innocent, ABC News reported.
She was denied bail twice after having been deemed a flight risk.
Maxwell is the youngest daughter of notorious British publishing baron Robert Maxwell, ABC News reported.
She attended Oxford and then lived an extravagant lifestyle until her father died in 1991 and his business empire collapsed.
Maxwell relocated to New York and soon was seen cavorting with Epstein, a math teacher-turned-wealthy investor who socialized globally with celebrities, politicians, and business leaders, ABC News reported.
Pretrial court filings indicated that the prosecution planned to avoid most of the salacious, headline-grabbing accusations about Epstein and his girlfriend and present a “streamlined case focused primarily on the experiences” of the four women whose allegations were detailed in the indictment against Maxwell.
Maxwell’s team has said from the time she was arrested that she was being targeted by the prosecution in attempt to “substitute” Epstein’s long-time girlfriend for the man himself, ABC News reported.
“Ghislaine Maxwell is not Jeffrey Epstein,” defense attorneys for Maxwell wrote in court filings. “She was not named in the government’s indictment of 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 occurred roughly twenty-five years ago.”
“Ms. Maxwell vigorously denies the charges, intends to fight them, and is entitled to the presumption of innocence,” her attorneys wrote.
Maxwell’s attorneys sought to have the testimony of one of the four accusers excluded from the trial because the girl was 17 years old – the age of consent – in all of the locations that she claimed she was involved in sexual activity with Epstein, ABC News reported.
“Accuser-3’s evidence does not show that Epstein was attracted to underage girls,” defense attorneys argued in court documents. “At most, it shows that he was attracted to young women above the age of consent, which is neither a crime nor evidence of a crime.”
The judge presiding over Maxwell’s case, U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan, refused to bar the woman’s testimony but said she would instruct the jury that Maxwell cannot be convicted of any of the charges in the case based on that witness’s account, ABC News reported.
Prosecutors also planned to put a co-conspirator on the stand to testify about Epstein’s notorious “black book” that contained contact information for politicians, celebrities, royalty, and underage girls.
Maxwell’s attorneys argued that witness couldn’t testify to the time period during which the defendant was accused of committing the crimes, and the judge ruled she would decide whether to admit the testimony until the witness was called to the stand, ABC News reported.
Opening statements in the trial were expected to begin on Nov. 29 after attorneys for both sides exercised their final strikes to finish jury selection.
The trial is expected to run for six weeks, ABC News reported.
Cameras and recording devices are prohibited in the courtroom because it is a federal trial.