On July 2, 2020, Ghislaine Maxwell, ex-girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein and a longtime associate, was arrested on multiple criminal charges related to the premeditated trafficking and sexual abuse of young girls. Maxwell was denied bail in the state of New Hampshire with her trial scheduled to commence on November 29, 2021. “This is a firm trial date,” Judge Nathan wrote.
More than a year after her detainment, Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial has officially been set in motion in Manhattan, New York. Ghislaine’s trial caught international attention due to her personal link with Jeffrey Epstein, who died while in custody at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York back on August 10, 2019. Epstein’s death was ruled a suicide by hanging while awaiting his own trial on federal child sex trafficking charges.
Officially Maxwell, 60, is accused of recruiting, grooming, and the violation and exploitation of girls as young as 14 between 1994 and 2004. In exchange for the underage girls engaging in sexual interactions with Epstein and associates, she allegedly offered them educational opportunities, money, and modeling jobs as a trade-off. According to CNN News, she is facing eight charges – including six counts of enticing minors and sex trafficking. Maxwell vehemently pleads not guilty to all charges and maintains an air of innocence, echoing that she has committed no wrong. She could potentially face up to a 70-year life sentence.
Both the state and the defense have been secretive pertaining to the contents of their witnesses’ lists leading up to the trial. The jury has now heard from a variety of witnesses throughout the duration of the court case, four of which being Maxwell’s accusers as well as: Epstein’s former pilot, FBI agents, a “false memory” expert, and Maxwell’s assistant.
The prosecution’s argument is substantially cemented on the testimonies of the four women who claim Epstein ran a sexual criminal enterprise in which Maxwell lured them into, thereby establishing her at the center. They hope that these testimonies will act as unequivocal evidence, proving beyond a reasonable doubt, that Maxwell provided Epstein access to engage in sexual activities with minors. And as such is guilty of conspiracy and the accompanying charges.
Maxwell’s defense attorneys intend to contradict this by first diminishing the credibility of the testimonies provided by the four women by calling to the stand Elizabeth Loftus a “false memory” expert. As well as other assistants who can speak to the character of Ghislaine along with her “minimum” level of involvement with Epstein. From there, attorneys plan to underline the witnesses’ past drug and alcohol use (or any mental illnesses procured over the years) to the court, while suggesting their behavior is prompted by money.
The first witness called to the stand by the defense is Cimberly Espinosa, Maxwell’s assistant from 1996 to 2006. According to Cimberley, at first Maxwell and Epstein “were a couple,” going on to describe how the two were “flirty” with each other at the Madison Avenue office where she worked before she transitioned into being Maxwell’s assistant. During this time, Espinosa was tasked by Epstein to send flowers to another woman behind Maxwell’s back, and it became clear the duo began dating other people. Espinosa reportedly learned a lot from Maxwell and held her former boss in high esteem. “I highly respected Ghislaine. I looked up to her very much.” Espinosa also recalled seeing “Jane” – a pseudonym used to describe the first accuser to testify against Maxwell – insisting she looked “probably 18.” According to Espinosa, she was told Jane was Epstein’s goddaughter and says, “I felt it was a loving relationship.” Espinosa denied ever seeing Maxwell or Epstein engage in inappropriate activity with underage girls.
Jane took to the stand on Tuesday November 30, 2021, descriptively and emotionally testifying to the gruesome abuse she endured beginning when she was just 14 years old. According to Jane, Epstein and Maxwell first approached her at a summer camp for the arts in Michigan, for which Epstein was a financial donor. The abuse continued until she was 16 years old. During this two-year time frame, Jane recounted an occasion in which Maxwell and Epstein undressed and fondled each other in Epstein’s bedroom, frequently guiding her to join them in orgies in the financier’s Palm Beach, New York, and New Mexico estates. “[Maxwell] touched my breasts during sexualized massages and instructed me on how to touch him. I was frozen in fear.” she recalled.
Jane later shared with the court a separate occasion in which Maxwell took her to Victoria’s Secret to purchase “white underwear,” a few of the many times Maxwell imitated a big sister role in order to coax and manipulate younger girls. She concluded her attestation by expressing she felt “terrified and ashamed and has to carry that shame for the rest of my life.”
Epstein’s pilot of over 20 years, Larry Visoski, testified the same day that Jane was certainly among the passengers on the financier’s private plane and remembered her “piercing blue eyes.” Other guests aboard included former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, along with Britain’s Prince Andrew and the late Sen. John Glenn. David Rogers, another pilot working for Epstein for the same duration as Visoski, was able to pinpoint the exact date he first met Jane, says irishtimes.com. On November 11th, 1996, Epstein and the victim flew from Palm Beach, FL to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. According to his logbook, the trio (consisting of Epstein, Maxwell, and Jane) flew from Teterboro to Epstein’s New Mexico ranch on May 9th, 1997 – the same ranch in which Jane testifies one of their sexual encounters took place.
The above testimonies, crucial to initiating the prosecution’s case, not only confirm the direct link between Epstein and Maxwell working in tandem, but also debunk the presumption that Maxwell was not an active participant. This notion is further supported by Visoki and Rogers corroboration of Epstein and Jane’s relationship in order for her to gain occupancy on his private jet.
During cross-examination, one of Maxwell’s defense attorneys questioned Visoski, inquiring whether or not he was aware of the age of the passengers on board. Vioski responded he was unaware Jane was underage, regurgitating a claim similar to Espinosa’s in that “she looked like a woman.”
Carolyn, the second of the four women accusers, chose to testify under her first name only. She stated she was compensated hundreds of dollars each time she engaged in a sexualized massage with Epstein. She was brought to Epstein’s Palm Beach estate when she was 14 years old in 2001. Carolyn also explained that Maxwell groped her nude body on one visit the same year, telling her that she “had a great body for Epstein and his friends.” During cross-examination, defense attorney Jeffrey Pagliuca spent a considerable amount of time suggesting Carolyn made inconsistent statements regarding her timeline.
The third of the accusers testified under a pseudonym, “Kate.” Kate claims Maxwell introduced her to Epstein when she was 17 years old in London. She would often initiate her sexualized massages with Epstein for years during which she traveled to the US and Epstein’s island. Judge Alison Nathan ruled, being as Kate was 17, she was over the age of consent at the time of the alleged abuse therefore she will not be considered a minor victim; however, jurors are still allowed to consider her testimony.
On Friday, December 10th the fourth and last accuser chose to testify under her full name – Annie Farmer. Annie’s testimony shares distinct similarities with the three remaining victims’ stories, and she emphasized experiencing financial instability at home. Annie informed the court she was only 16 when Ghislaine Maxwell gave her a nude massage at Jeffrey Epstein’s New Mexico ranch.
In rebuttal to the women’s testimonies the defense called Elizabeth Loftus – an expert witness on false memories – to the stand on December 16th. The strategy behind this was to not only question the accuracy of the accuser’s restatements but essentially cast doubt amongst the jury. Ms. Loftus is most known for poking holes in cases such as Ted Bundy, Robert Durst, and Harvey Weinstein. In this particular case she sought to discredit the victims credibility. “False memories … can be very vivid, detailed. People can be confident about them, people can be emotional about them, even though they’re false.”
Maxwell’s attorneys argued that the women’s memories had been corrupted in the decades since the alleged abuse and interrogated the financial motives of the four women. As each victim who has testified to the court has received money from Epstein’s victim compensation fund the defense calls into question how accurate and reliable their testimonies can be knowing this information.
Along with calling Ms. Loftus to the stand, Maxwell’s defense team put in a request to place the trial on hold temporarily in hopes of calling two more witnesses, a woman identified as “Kelly” who has yet to respond to subpoenas, and another witness located in England. Prosecutors argue that Ms. Maxwell’s defense already had time to plan its case and that tracking these individuals down would take time. Judge Alison J. Nathan seemed to agree given the fact that Maxwell had been in custody since the summer of 2020. “You have your witnesses, or you rest,” Judge Nathan proclaimed.
The Defense Rests
As Maxwell’s attorneys were unable to summon the remaining two witnesses, they had no choice but to rest or call their final witness to the stand – Ghislaine Maxwell herself. When posed the option she responded, “Your Honor, the government has not proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt so there is no reason for me to testify.” Vanity Fair confirms. As the defense rested their case, the federal trial transitioned into its last and final stage – closing arguments.
The jury made a lot of requests along the way to reach their decision. They’ve asked for all the testimonies of the victims as well as other testimonies to be reread, sticky notes and a white board, and clarification from the judge on the definition of the word “enticement” which is essential to the first two counts. After approximately 40 hours and several days into deliberations, the jury delivered their unanimous decision on December 29, 2021, to the court. Former British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty of five of the six federal charges filed against her. She was found not guilty on count two: enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, this count is mostly related to victim “Jane.”
As the verdict was read, Ghislaine Maxwell reportedly showed no visible reaction. She’ll return to Brooklyn’s Metropolitan detention center until Judge Alison Nathan gives a date for her to be sentenced. Maxwell’s sex trafficking charge usurps the rest in terms of prison length with a maximum term of 40 years. Because of Ghislaine turning 60 years old on Christmas day she’s likely to spend the remainder of her life behind bars.