Ghislaine Maxwell news – latest: Accuser addresses crowd outside court as socialite’s trial gets underway

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·15 min read
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  • Ghislaine Maxwell
    Ghislaine Maxwell
    Socialite
  • Jeffrey Epstein
    American financier

The six-week trial of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has begun in New York City with opening arguments in the much-awaited case expected later this morning.

The trial is being held at the Manhattan federal court where Ms Maxwell, 59, will face charges related to her alleged involvement in financier Jeffrey Epstein’s sex crimes.

Ms Maxwell, who spent decades rubbing shoulders with British royals and US presidents, is accused of recruiting and grooming underage girls for the late disgraced financier to sexually abuse between 1994 and 2004.

In July 2020, she was tracked down by the FBI and arrested after she was charged with enticing a minor to travel to engage in criminal sexual activity and several other related counts.

While Epstein died by suicide in federal custody at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, awaiting his own trial, Ms Maxwell’s hearings are expected to reveal new details about the case.

The daughter of the late media mogul Robert Maxwell, Ms Maxwell faces the prospect of up to 35 years of jail if she is found guilty.

Read More

Ghislaine Maxwell trial: Everything we know about Jeffrey Epstein’s ex-girlfriend and associate

Ghislaine Maxwell trial 2021: When does it start and what is she accused of?

Ghislaine Maxwell: Brother says alleged abuser’s ‘over-hyped’ trial is ‘designed to break her’

Key Points

  • Everything you need to know about the Ghislaine Maxwell trial

  • Who is Ghislaine Maxwell?

  • How Ghislaine Maxwell got involved with Jeffrey Epstein?

  • What is the truth about Jeffrey Epstein’s island?

Maxwell in court

15:08 , Oliver O'Connell

Ms Maxwell is in court, with Bloomberg reporting that she is wearing a white turtleneck and dark slacks and is seated next to her lawyers, who she embraced on arrival as she usually does.

Her sister Isabel is seated behind the defence table in the spectator area.

Juror 87 excused

15:02 , Oliver O'Connell

Juror 87 has been excused after saying that he had conversations with work contacts who had expressed strong opinions about the case.

He said that he had been unable to cut them off.

'I never thought this day would come’

14:55 , Oliver O'Connell

Sarah Ransome — one of several women to have accused Ms Maxwell of abuse — was seen arriving at the courthouse on Monday morning.

She told reporters: “I never thought this day would come.”

Ms Ransome will not be testifying.

Jurors questioned ahead of final selection

14:49 , Oliver O'Connell

Judge Nathan has asked the jurors if they have read, seen, heard, or researched anything about the case during the holiday recess and if there is any reason that they cannot be a fair and impartial juror.

One juror, number 87, who works for a private equity firm has expressed doubts about being fair and impartial and will be questioned in the main courtroom.

Jurors are currently being held in two separate courtrooms and have been addressed remotely.

Jury selection to take approximately one hour

14:33 , Oliver O'Connell

There is a total pool of 58 prospective jurors. They will be selected from a group of the first 40 interviewed.

Lawyers on both sides can challenge the inclusion of certain people.

There is currently a delay in proceedings as missing members of the jury pool are located.

Jury selection before opening arguments

14:22 , Oliver O'Connell

Before opening arguments begin this morning, 12 jurors and six alternates will be selected.

They will decide whether Ms Maxwell is guilty of the following crimes:

  • Conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts

  • Enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts

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

  • Transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity

  • Sex trafficking conspiracy

  • Sex trafficking of a minor

She is also charged with two counts of perjury, but these will be tried separately from the above.

The Brooklyn detention centre

14:05 , Gino Spocchia

For Ghislaine Maxwell, the beginning of the trial marks a reprieve from the the Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn, and her 6ft by 9ft cell.

She had described her existence at the detention centre as a “living hell”, and claimed that she has been assaulted and abused by prison guards, and forced to sleep under “fluorescent lights”.

Neither has she had a “nutritious meal”, Ms Maxwell told the Daily Mail earlier this month.

Both the detention centre and Federal Bureau of Prisons have denied those claims, and she has meanwhile been refused bail on four attempts, ahead of her trial beginning on Monday.

Ghislaine Maxwell says jail is ‘living hell’

The shadow of Jeffrey Epstein

13:45 , Gino Spocchia

The shadow of Jeffrey Epstein will likely loom over the court in Manhattan as the trial of Ghislaine Trial gets underway. As will the cast of rotating figures formerly involved, and photographed, with the pair during the 90s.

It includes former US president Donald Trump, who has said he fell out with Mr Epstein, and Britain’s Prince Andrew, who has faced accusations himself of sexual abuse by a minor, Virginia Giuffre, which he denies.

Ms Giuffre’s claims will however be absent from Ms Maxwell’s trial, and she is not speak as a witness. Prosecutors will instead focus on four other women who say they were recruited by her as teenagers to be abused by Mr Epstein.

Who Is lead prosecutor Maurene Comey?

13:20 , Gino Spocchia

The daughter of former FBI director James Comey is the head of the Violent and Organised Crime Unit in New York, and has been with the office since 2014.

Having been due to try Jeffrey Epstrein before his death in 2019, she will lead the prosecution against his ex associate, Ghislaine Maxwell, during the upcoming trial in Manhattan.

She has tried major cases including the 2019 trial of 11 men for trafficking minors, gang members and drug traffickers, and her office is one of the most prestigious prosecutor’s offices in the US.

Notable prosecutions handled by the office include the 1993 World Trade Centre bombers, Richard Nixon’s Attorney General during Watergate, John Mitchell, and injury and loss of life claims from the sinking of the Titanic.

Reminder: Her father was famously fired by former US president Donald Trump as FBI director for his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails after the 2016 election. The Republican has told reporters in the past that he had met Ms Maxwell “numerous times” but was “not a fan” of Mr Epstein before the pair fell out.

Who are the key courtroom figures in the Ghislaine Maxwell trial?

Outside the court in Manhattan

12:55 , Gino Spocchia

Outside the Manhattan court where the Ghislaine Maxwell trail will begin in a few hours, a crowd of media outlets and members of the public could be seen, as The Independent’s Bevan Hurley writes from Manhattan:

Media began gathering outside the federal courthouse in Manhattan before 5am. The presence of a US Marshall at the court suggested Ms Maxwell may already have been transported here from the Brooklyn Detention Center. By 7am, the line outside court of waiting media and interested members of the public had grown to about 40. A professional line sitter handed out cards offering his services as a place holder. The court is expected to open at 7.30am and proceedings will start are due to start at 9.30am.

Outside the federal court in Manhattan, New York (Bevan Hurley)
Outside the federal court in Manhattan, New York (Bevan Hurley)

A trial in the #MeToo era

12:25 , Gino Spocchia

The trial of Ghislaine Maxwell follows the #MeToo movement and the ongoing #MeToo era that first led to charges for sex trafficking against her former associate and partner, Jeffrey Epstein.

The era has seen victims of sexual abuse speak out against powerful men like Mr Epstein, a wealthy financier, as well as Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and more recently, R&B singer R Kelly.

As The Independent’s Clémence Michallon wrote earlier this year, the cases of Weinstein, Kelly and Ms Maxwell’s have shown that so-called “rich people justice” in the US is also coming to an end, with all three being refused bail in some form, while awaiting their fate.

What Ghislaine Maxwell’s case teaches us about rich people justice

What has Ghislaine Maxwell’s brother said?

12:05 , Gino Spocchia

Ms Maxwell’s brother Ian Maxwell has said his sister’s trial has been “over hyped” and “designed to break her”, in comments ahead of her trial on Monday.

He told the Associated Press that prosecutors were attempting to find fault with Ms Maxwell for the crimes of her former associate and partner, Jeffrey Epstein, who was found dead in his prison cell two years ago following charges of sex trafficking.

Mr Maxwell said of his sister, “She will not be broken because she believes completely in her innocence and she is going to give the best account she can.” She has pleaded not guilty to six charges, including sex trafficking and conspiracy to transport minors for sexual activities.

Mr Maxwell has said previously that his sister was being held in “effective isolation” at the Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn, where she is being held in a 6ft by 9ft cell with no natural light, a toilet and a concrete bed.

Ghislaine Maxwell’s brother says trial ‘designed to break her’

Who are the alleged victims?

11:41 , Ella Glover

There are four accusers testifying against Ms Maxwell.

They are named in the indictment as Minor Victim-1, Minor Victim-2, Minor Victim-3 and Minor Victim-4, and will be allowed to use a pseudonym for their first name during the trial.

But what are their stories, according to the indictment?

Minor Victim-1: New York City and Florida, approx. 1994-1997

Minor Victim-1 is said to have met Ghislaine Maxwell aged 14. Ms Maxwell subsequently interacted with the alleged victim on multiple occasions knowing they were under the age of 18.

The indictment says Ms Maxwell “groomed Minor Victim-1 to engage in sexual acts with Jeffrey Epstein through multiple means.”

Ms Maxwell allegedly undressed in front of Minor Victim-1 and was present when they undressed in front of Epstein. Ms Maxwell was allegedly later “present” for and “involved in” Epstein’s sexual abuse of Minor Victim-1, which included “group sexualised” massages and occurred both in New York and Florida.

Minor Victim-2: New Mexico, 1996

Ms Maxwell allegedly interacted with Minor Victim-2 on at least one occasion, knowing they were under 18.

The alleged victim travelled to New Mexico at Epstein’s invitation, where the alleged victim was then “groomed.”

Ms Maxwell allegedly performed an “unsolicited massage” on Minor Victim-2, who was topless, and “encouraged Minor Victim-2 to massage Epstein.”

Minor Victim-3: London, approx. 1994-1995

Ms Maxwell allegedly “befriended and groomed” Minor Victim-3 in London, UK, who was under the age of 18.

Ms Maxwell allegedly introduced Minor Victim-3 to Epstein, arranged meetings between the two and encouraged Minor Victim-3 to give Epstein massages during which he sexually assaulted the alleged victim.

The indictment says Ms Maxwell knew about the alleged abuse, including the occasions when the alleged victim was underage.

Minor Victim-4: Florida, approx. 2001-2004

Prosecutors claim the fourth alleged victim met Epstein in Florida, where she lived, aged 14.

Ms Maxwell is accused of grooming the alleged victim and normalising the abuse that occurred during sexualised massages of Epstein.

Ms Maxwell was allegedly among a number of Epstein employees who phoned the alleged victim to schedule sexualised massages, paid them hundreds of dollars in cash and encouraged them to recruit other young females.

She is also accused of inviting the alleged victim to travel with Epstein and offering to pay for their passport. Both offers were declined.

What are Ghislaine Maxwell’s charges?

10:22 , ella glover

Ghislaine Maxwell has pleaded not guilty on six sex trafficking charges over a 10 year period between 1994 and 2004.

Four accusers are listed in the indictment as Minor Victim-1, Minor Victim-2, Minor Victim-3 and Minor Victim-4.

These are the six charges against Ms Maxwell:

  • Conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts

  • Enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts

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

  • Transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity

  • Sex trafficking conspiracy

  • Sex trafficking of a minor

She is also charged with two counts of perjury, but these will be tried separately to the above.

Why was Ghislaine Maxwell denied bail?

10:03 , Ella Glover

Judge Alison Nathan, the judge in charge of Ms Maxwell’s trial, has turned down four applications for bail in total.

Ms Maxwell was denied bail on the grounds that she is a flight risk.

Judge Nathan cited Ms Maxwell’s lack of honesty about her wealth, and that as a passport holder of three countries, the US, Britain and France, she could use her extraordinary wealth and connections to flee the court’s jurisdiction.

Who is the judge in charge Maxwell’s trial?

09:45 , Ella Glover

The judge in charge of Maxwell’s trial is the 49-year-old Judge Alison Nathan.

She is a former special assistant to Barack Obama and was appointed a judge in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York in 2011.

She is also an adjunct professor of clinical law at New York University.

She was this month nominated for a prestigious federal appeals court process, but has said she will stay on to preside over Ms Maxwell’s trial.

Jury whittled down to 12 members and 6 alternates

09:20 , Ella Glover

Maxwell’s trial will go in front of a jury.

The final 12 jurors and six alternates were whittled down from a pool of 600 prospective jurors.

They were asked to fill out questionnaires detailing what they knew about Ms Maxwell and Epstein.

Of those, 231 were questioned by Judge Alison Nathan over whether they had been victims of abuse and what opinions they held about people of wealth who have “luxurious lifestyles”.

Maxwell expected to challenge accusers memory in defence

09:04 , Ella Glover

A letter published last month gave clues as to how Ms Maxwell’s legal team may defend her in court.

It is expected that her defence will say that her accusers have faulty memories.

The letter, written by her lawyer, Jeffrey Pagliuca says leading experts in psychiatry and memory would be brought in to testify in her defence.

One expert, Elizabeth Loftus, is a psychologist specialising in false memory. She has testified at more than 300 trials, including for high-profile defendants such as Ted Bundy and Harvey Weinstein, according to the BBC.

The letter says: “She will describe scientific research showing that false memories can be described with confidence, detail, and emotion, just like true memories.”

Read the letter here.

What is the truth about Jeffrey Epstein’s island?

07:05 , Stuti Mishra

Jeffrey Epstein’s private paradise of Little St James in the US Virgin Islands allegedly became the centre of his international sex trafficking ring.

The island property that Epstein called home was often used to host celebrities and famous personalities. But the island over the years gained a handful of sinister nicknames: “Orgy Island,” “Pedophile Island,” and “Island of Sin.”

It soon became the centre of a web of lawsuits and criminal investigations seeking to untangle the life of Epstein, who died in prison in 2019 at the age of 66 in what authorities said was a suicide.

But what is the truth about the 75-acre island? Io Dodds reports.

Where was Jeffrey Epstein’s island and what exactly was it?

How Ghislaine Maxwell got involved with Jeffrey Epstein?

06:45 , Stuti Mishra

British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell said she met Jeffrey Epstein, then a wealthy financier, in 1991 through a mutual friend.\

The couple was routinely photographed with high profile public figures including Donald Trump, and Bill Clinton, as well as Prince Andrew.

However, when allegations of sexual exploitation against Epstein surfaced, Ms Maxwell’s involvement was also claimed.

According to prosecutors, she created a network of underage victims for Epstein to sexually exploit. A victim said that Ms Maxwell and Epstein “worked as a team” in “grooming” girls” to be sexually abused by the disgraced financier.

Here’s the full story of how the two met and ended up getting caught up in sexual exploitation charges.

How did Ghislaine Maxwell meet Jeffrey Epstein?

Who is Ghislaine Maxwell?

06:20 , Stuti Mishra

Ghislaine Maxwell is on trial from Monday for sex trafficking charges in cases connected to the disgraced billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein and Prince Andrew.

She has been in prison awaiting the start of the trial for 15 months – since she was tracked down by the FBI and arrested in July 2020.

The daughter of deceased media mogul Robert Maxwell spent decades rubbing shoulders with British royals and US presidents. But now she could be sentenced to up to 35 years in prison if found guilty of the charges.

Here’s everything you need to know about the incarcerated British socialite.

Everything we know about Ghislaine Maxwell as trial begins

Everything you need to know about the Ghislaine Maxwell trial

05:56 , Stuti Mishra

As the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell is about to begin, questionnaires have already been sent out to potential jurors in the case and her fate will be decided in the next six weeks at Manhattan courtroom.

Federal prosecutors have charged Ms Maxwell with conspiracy and enticing minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, and the transportation of minors to engage in criminal sexual activity for allegedly grooming and recruiting underage girls from 1994 through 1997.

She is also being charged with sex trafficking of a minor from 2001 to 2004, in addition to one count of sex trafficking conspiracy. If convicted, Ms Maxwell, 59, can spend upto 35 years in jail.

Here’s everything you need to know about the trial and charges against the British socialite.

Ghislaine Maxwell trial 2021: When does it start and what is she accused of?

05:47 , Stuti Mishra

Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s liveblog covering the start of the six-week trial of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell.

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