Face drawing by Ghislaine Maxwell at the start of the trial
Photo: Elizabeth Williams / AP
At the beginning of the abuse trial against Jeffrey Epstein's ex-confidante Ghislaine Maxwell, the 59-year-old prosecutor accused the 59-year-old of complicity in serious sexual crimes against minors.
The accused was in the crimes the "right hand" of the influential businessman Epstein, said a prosecutor on Monday at her opening speech in New York.
In the abuse ring operated by Epstein, Maxwell played a crucial role, won the trust of girls and brought them to their former partner, the prosecution continued.
“She knew exactly what was going to happen.” Maxwell is charged on six counts and faces a prison sentence of up to 80 years if convicted.
Maxwell's lawyer: "She's not like Jeffrey Epstein"
Maxwell's trial is estimated to take six weeks, with prosecutors relying on four main witnesses.
The cases to be heard range from 1994 to 2004 and the alleged crimes are said to have taken place in Epstein's mansions in New York, Florida, Santa Fe and London.
The defense of the 59-year-olds vehemently denied the presentation of the prosecution in their opening speech. It's about Epstein's crimes that Maxwell has nothing to do with. "She's not like Jeffrey Epstein," said Maxwell's lawyer. This was a "narcissistic man" and had manipulated the world around him - including Maxwell himself. In addition, their defenders attacked the four main witnesses. The alleged crimes were 15 to 25 years ago: "As we all know, memories fade over time."
Epstein had been accused of setting up a prostitution ring with dozens of underage female abuse victims. A 2008 lawsuit resulted in a beneficial deal for Epstein that caused some outrage. There was never another trial in New York against the well-connected multimillionaire - and acquaintances of Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Bill Gates or the British Prince Andrew, among others - because Epstein was found dead in his prison cell in 2019. Forensic doctors assume suicide.
Prosecutors tried Monday to portray Maxwell as a key accomplice for Epstein. She prepared the girls for Epstein, taking them to him "daily" for so-called massages, during which Epstein sexually abused them. A few times Maxwell was even present at such attacks. In addition, she had built up a "culture of silence" in Epstein's estate in order to keep the deeds secret and was privy to every detail in his life. Her motive was to maintain her own luxury life at Epstein.
On the first day of the trial, it remained open whether Maxwell would testify himself in the course of the trial.
She has been on remand in a prison in the Brooklyn neighborhood of New York since her arrest in July 2020.
She has repeatedly complained that the conditions there were unsanitary and inhuman.
Ghislaine Maxwell is the daughter of British publisher Robert Maxwell (1923-1991) and came to New York in the early 1990s.
She met Jeffrey Epstein at a party and is said to have been his girlfriend at times.
Epstein's environment described their role in his life as a mixture of employee, best friend and right-hand man.
jso / jok / dpa / AFP