After the presentation of evidence and the testimony of the four alleged victims of the pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, the trial that continues in the southern district of New York against his right hand, Ghislaine Maxwell, for recruiting girls to give sexual massage to the millionaire has closed this Friday the first phase of a process that is expected to last until January. Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to the six charges against him for allegedly capturing and instructing minors to fuel the depravity of Epstein, who committed suicide in prison in 2019. Alone in court, the British heiress also has two other processes pending for perjury.
The trials in the US are not as fast-paced as seen in the movies. Neither the attorneys continually patrol the courtroom, nor is the clatter of the judge’s gavel, along with the objections of the parties –I protest, Your Honor!-, the singsong of the sessions. Only the voracity of the defense, to almost strident limits, recalls the characters that, like hunting dogs, have starred in so many hours of good cinema: the judicial subgenre, with its cast of perverse lawyers, is a classic in American cinematography .
Onlookers, students, lawyers and journalists flock every day to the venerable wood-paneled and lush-carpeted rooms in the Lower Manhattan Courthouse to follow the view on closed-circuit television. The first surprising thing is that the witnesses, whose identities three of them conceal under a simple proper name (Jane, Kate and Carolyn), sit face to face behind a Plexiglas screen, next to the district attorney, Alison Nathan. Access to the cameras is not allowed, therefore the anonymity of the declarants, who are now in their 40s, is guaranteed. Another characteristic of the process is the overwhelming majority of women, from the Prosecutor’s Office to the attorneys for the parties.
On the screen divided into three, with two shots of the court, there is hardly room for the accused, who appears in the center, at the table she shares with the defense. The other two images focus on the judge’s bench and the lectern that are alternately occupied by representatives of the prosecution and the defense. It is difficult to identify Maxwell – short dark hair, black mask, nervous gestures – despite the fact that one of the arguments of the defense has been the excessive mediatization of the process. In the images provided by closed circuit television, Maxwell, 59, is a more than discreet figure, almost absent. And disturbing: one day it was captured by the cartoonist who leaves a graphic record of the process by portraying her in turn.
On the screen, and following the statement of experts such as an FBI agent who searched for years in the electronic devices of the Epstein-Maxwell tandem, there are photographs, emails, records of conversations or claims of the type “wanted masseuse, excellent pay, free weekends ”. The list of the numbered evidence becomes accounting for abjection. The first date from the early nineties; the latest from 2002.
The FBI agent, and days before the pilot of the tycoon’s private plane, have been the few male presences, almost comparsas, in a process in which the excess of Epstein’s testosterone, and perhaps that of Maxwell, is still planning as a threat. . Judging by her body language, Carolyn, the third victim in order of appearance, has not gotten over the damage caused by four years of abuse since she was 14. When she came of age, Epstein asked her one day if she had any more friends. young people, to invite them to the sexual massage sessions that Maxwell orchestrated in the mansion of Palm Beach (Florida). “I was too old for him,” Carolyn mused.
Her almost inaudible voice, combined with sobs and hesitation, made her an easy target of defense despite herself, which brought to light all the stumbling blocks of her life: abused by her grandfather at the age of four; school dropout, early drug use, a pimp boyfriend who pushed her to meet Epstein even though she was aware of the abuse; sexual companion to earn a living and get the doses that his addiction required, and also the yoke of a poorly treated schizophrenia. “Sex for money, yes, sometimes,” he confessed Tuesday. It is the objective of the defense: to dismantle the testimonies piece by piece, however cruel the deconstruction may be.
“Epstein gave me between $ 300 and $ 400 per massage [entre 250 y 350 euros]. I used them to buy drugs, ”he declared Tuesday. With different facets of vulnerability, from the uprooted home of the first witness, Jane, who began to frequent the couple in 1994, when she was 14 years old, to the sordid existence of Carolyn, the victims coincide in a pattern of helplessness that made them in propitiatory victims of the abuse of power of Epstein and Maxwell, prior to the sexual abuse and which in turn allowed them to perpetuate it: the fear of the young women to their clear dominance kept them captive of the situation for years. Maxwell was even seen by one of the victims as the role model to embody: “A decisive, worldly, cosmopolitan woman,” Kate said on Monday, “the kind of woman I would have wanted to become, I felt so lucky for have her as a friend… ”.
But the camaraderie that the defendant showed from the outset contained a dominating desire: nothing that happened in the Epstein residences was beyond her control; She was the strict governess, the boss, also in perversions. Kate was 17 years old, age of consent, when she was abused by the financier at her London mansion, and she kept in touch with both for years. “I was afraid to get away from them because I saw how powerful they were and how connected they were,” explained Kate, to whom Maxwell claimed to be friends with Prince Andrew of England and the tycoon, and future US president, Donald Trump.
A perverse nexus
The modus operandi with Kate, who aspired to become a model, corroborates, according to the Prosecutor’s Office, the pattern of exploitation of Epstein and Maxwell, who were a couple in the early nineties and continued to be linked by a perverse nexus: according to the women, the accused he sometimes witnessed the abuses, when he did not participate in them by touching the girls, forcing them to undress to give the massages and forcing them to satisfy “the needs [del millonario], sex two and three times a day ”, he would say to them half jokingly, as one who excuses a mischief or a peculiarity. Of “Mrs. Maxwell,” as she continually called her “because I don’t know how to pronounce her first name,” Carolyn recalled: “I was completely naked and she came in and touched my breasts and my hips and my buttocks and she said … that he had a great body for Mr. Epstein and his friends. ” Annie Farmer, 42, the only victim who has been fully identified, recalled, consistent with Carolyn’s statement, how Maxwell fondled her breasts while she, 16, massaged the financier.
During the trial, the economic foundation of the symbiosis between Maxwell and Epstein has also come to light. The heiress wanted to keep Epstein “satisfied” to continue having “the lifestyle she was used to”, and that the disappearance of her father, and the ruin of her media emporium, could compromise. On Monday prosecutors showed receipts for transfers from Epstein to Maxwell worth more than $ 30 million in three transactions in 1999, 2002 and 2007. After receiving a 7.4 million money order, in 2007, Maxwell bought a helicopter, who knows if to escape the action of justice, which by then already haunted the financier, which he managed to slip away in 2008, with a venal agreement.
Maxwell’s lawyers charge the ink in Epstein’s actions and avoid subpoenaing their client as much as possible, while considering the relevance of the British testifying: doing so could compromise his constitutional right not to incriminate himself, while underlining that he is the scapegoat of justice … and indirectly also of the negligence of the Administration, unable to keep Epstein alive in his cell. They also highlight the time that has elapsed since the events, which could tarnish the memories of the victims. The members of the jury, at whose entrance to the room those present salute formally standing, must reach a unanimous decision, in a process that has already become part of the bland landscape of Manhattan.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.