As the disgraced socialite's highly anticipated sex-trafficking trial started on Monday, one of Jeffrey Epstein's accused victims and Ghislaine Maxwell's sister appeared at a Manhattan courthouse.
The first order of business was to complete jury selection, which included selecting the 12 jurors and six alternates who will hear the high-profile case, with opening comments scheduled later in the day.
Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell's trial begins
The opening of Maxwell's long-awaited trial drew a slew of reporters to the courthouse in Lower Manhattan. Sarah Ransome, an alleged Epstein victim, attorney Lisa Bloom, and Maxwell's sister Isabel were also seen coming. Some of Epstein's victims were represented by Bloom, as per NY Post.
Maxwell has been in detention since her arrest last year; she was dressed in a white sweater as she appeared in court. She has been held in a Brooklyn jail since her arrest, faces a maximum penalty of 70 years in prison if convicted on all counts, practically a life sentence.
From 1994 through 2004, Maxwell has been accused of recruiting, grooming, and abusing four juvenile girls with Epstein at various locations in the United States and the United Kingdom. Prosecutors said in her indictment that she engaged in "group sexual encounters" with Epstein and an underage girl referred to as "Minor Victim-1" in court records from 1994 to 1997.
Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein were partners in crime
Per SCMP, in the opening remarks Monday, a prosecutor said that Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein were "partners in crime" in the sexual abuse of minor girls; while the defense countered that, like so many other women before her, Maxwell was being made a scapegoat for a man's terrible behavior.
At the commencement of Maxwell's sex trafficking trial, Assistant US Attorney Lara Pomerantz claimed that the British socialite and Epstein recruited girls as young as 14 to participate in "so-called massages" in which sex abuse became "casual and normal" after they were lavished with money and presents.
Lawyer Bobbi Sternheim concluded the trial by saying that her client was a "scapegoat for a man who behaved inappropriately." She claimed that Maxwell, like so many other women before her, was being blamed for a man's poor behavior all the way back to Adam and Eve.
Several ladies who were victims of Epstein were present at the trial. Maxwell is accused of working as Epstein's main enabler, recruiting and grooming young girls for him to abuse. He is claimed to have been Epstein's lover and then his "best friend" after they broke up.
She denies all six counts, but if proved guilty, she may face up to 80 years in prison. He committed suicide in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019 before he could be tried. Virginia Roberts, the woman who has accused Prince Andrew of raping her, was one of those accused of being a recruiter. One of the accused victims in the case was introduced to Epstein "not by Ghislaine Maxwell," but by Roberts, now Virginia Giuffre, who was paid by Epstein to recruit ladies for massages, according to Maxwell's defense lawyer Bobbi Sternheim.
Assistant US Attorney Lara Pomerantz claimed that the abuse took place at Epstein's houses, which included his Palm Beach mansion, his Manhattan townhouse, a ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a Paris flat, and a luxury estate in the Virgin Islands, according to Miss Pomerantz.
Maxwell was accused in July 2020, a year after Epstein committed suicide, when authorities tracked her to a New Hampshire house. Since then, she has been imprisoned in Brooklyn, declaring the allegations against her "total nonsense." Her family claims she was Epstein's pawn who was willing to pay a "blood price" to fulfill public demand for someone to be held accountable.
"Sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite," said Maxwell's lawyer, Jeff Pagliuca, as she walked out of court, as per Daily Mail. Lisa Bloom, a lawyer who represents eight alleged victims of Epstein and one in the Maxwell case outside the courthouse, claimed Epstein could not have abused the women without the support of Maxwell.