Ghislaine Maxwell 'served up girls' for sexual abuse court hears

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  • Ghislaine Maxwell
    Ghislaine Maxwell
    Socialite
  • Jeffrey Epstein
    American financier
Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Ghislaine Maxwell's criminal trial got underway yesterday (Monday 29 November) in Manhattan, New York. She is accused of grooming and recruiting underage girls for Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted multi-millionaire sex offender, to sexually abuse in the late nineties and early noughties.

Federal prosecutors have also charged Maxwell with sex trafficking a minor from 2001 to 2004, as well as one count of sex trafficking conspiracy.

What is Ghislaine Maxwell on trial for?

The full list of charges, for which Maxwell has pleaded not guilty on all counts, includes:

  • Enticing minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts

  • Enticing minor to travel for illegal sex acts

  • Conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity

  • Transport of minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity

  • Two counts of perjury

Earlier this month, potential jurors were sent out questionnaires to assess their suitability to oversee the hearing. The questionnaire seeks to ascertain whether the potential juror has any prior knowledge of the criminal case, if anyone they know is connected to the case and if they (or anyone they know) have been a victim of the crimes. Selection of jurors took place yesterday, ahead of the trial's commencement.

Maxwell's trial is set to last six weeks.

So, what's the latest with Ghislaine Maxwell's trial?

Here's a timeline of Maxwell's trial, starting with the most recent update:

29 November, 2021:

On the first day of her criminal trial, Maxwell was branded a "dangerous predator" by Assistant US Attorney, Lara Pomerantz. During her opening argument, Pomerantz put emphasis on the prosecution's argument that the 59-year-old "knew exactly what would happen to these girls."

Speaking to the jury, Pomerantz painted a picture in which Maxwell knowingly sought out and recruited underage girls, who would later be Epstein's victims. "The defendant directed the girls into a room where she knew (Epstein) would molest them," the court heard, according to The National. "There were times when she was in the room when it happened – making it all feel normal and casual. She preyed on vulnerable young girls, manipulated them and served them up to be sexually abused."

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Speaking about how Maxwell committed her alleged crimes, Pomerantz said: "The defendant and Epstein were partners in crime. They had a play book. Firstly, they got access to young girls, then they would gain their trust, they would learn about their lives and dreams, they learned about their families. The defendant and Epstein made the girls believe that their dreams could come true. They made them feel seen. They made them feel special."

"But that was a cover, a cover that meant the defendant and Epstein could operate in plain sight. They were wealthy and influential people who made the girls feel comfortable and safe. What came next was anything but safe... What came next was making them feel comfortable with sexual acts with Epstein. [The girls] would have paid anything not to have met the defendant and Jeffrey Epstein. They were dangerous predators who exploited and sexually abused young girls for a decade."

Pomerantz concluded: "Between 1994 and 2004, the defendant sexually exploited young girls. She preyed on vulnerable young girls, manipulated them and served them up to be sexually abused... The defendant was trafficking kids for sex. That is what this trial is all about."

In response to the prosecution's claims, Maxwell's defence argued that she had become a scapegoat for the case, following Epstein's suicide in 2019 – before he could be tried on sex abuse charges.

Bobbi Sternheim, leading the defence, opened their argument by saying "Ever since Adam and Eve, women have been blamed for crimes committed by men," according to journalist and author, Lucia Osborne-Crowley who was present in the court.

"The charges against Ghislaine Maxwell are for things that Jeffrey Epstein did, but she is not Jeffrey Epstein," Sternheim continued. "She is not like Jeffrey Epstein and she is not like the powerful white men and media giants who abuse women."

The defence also argued that the alleged victims in the case had had their memories "corrupted."

"Sternham [sic] said the defence will call experts to prove that memory can be 'corrupted' and that false memories of abuse can be planted in victims’ minds by things like media attention and the prospect of 'big money rewards'," tweeted Osborne-Crowley. "She accused the victims of having memories that were 'unreliable', 'untrustworthy' and 'uncorroborated'."

According to Osborne-Crowley, Sternheim also "accused the victims of themselves being sex traffickers." The defence attorney alleges that the girls had "preyed" on and "manipulated" one another, describing two of the victims of having been drug users whose "recollections shouldn't be trusted."

The trial continues.

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