The trial for corruption of minors and sex trafficking that has been going on since November 29 in the court of the southern district of Manhattan against Ghislaine Maxwell, right hand of pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, opens this Thursday the turn of the defense, who has called to testify 35 witnesses to try to dismantle the accusations of four alleged victims of abuse whose statements monopolized the first two weeks of the process. The heiress of British communications businessman Robert Maxwell will not take the stand because she feels “too fragile”, a spokesman for her family in the United Kingdom announced on Thursday. Maxwell, who is of American, British and French nationality, faces a possible 80-year prison sentence for the six crimes against him.
The facts of which Maxwell is accused – alone before the courts after Epstein’s suicide in preventive prison in 2019 – correspond to the period between 1994 and 2002, when the heiress allegedly recruited, trained and it pushed an undetermined number of minors into sexual harassment, most of them in a situation of economic or psychological vulnerability, and whom the couple cajoled with money or by promising help in their studies or their artistic dreams. The statement of the four victims, Kate, Jane, Carolyn and Annie Farmer – the only one who identified herself by first and last name – corroborates the pattern of action of Maxwell, 59, as a close and friendly woman who earned trust of the victims, some of them 14 years old, with talks of a sexual nature, confidences and gifts, such as tickets to the cinema or lingerie. When he had lured them to his land, Maxwell, Epstein’s ex-partner and mistress of his mansions, pushed them to give the financier erotic massages, a prologue to the abuses.
Maxwell, who has pleaded “not guilty” – in the US procedural system there is no category “innocent” – of all charges, is especially active and collaborative with her team of lawyers during the trial sessions, exchanging views and written messages, an image that does not match well with the supposed fragility that his family argues. His lawyers have also considered the inopportunity for him to testify, because this would mean that the testimony could be used against him by the prosecution, which would violate his constitutional right not to incriminate himself.
The main asset of the defense is a psychologist specializing in “truncated memories”, Elizabeth Loftus, whose selection has drawn criticism from the prosecution for the alleged imprecision of her methods. Loftus, an expert in media cases such as, for example, that of the producer Harvey Weinstein -who was convicted-, will try to show that the period that has elapsed since the events may have distorted the memories of the young women, now women in their 40s. The defense also has disqualified the four witnesses by presenting them as “consummate actresses”, influenced by the media coverage of the case and eager for the millions of dollars of the compensation fund for victims established after Epstein’s arrest in 2019.
The presentation by the prosecution, last week, of a score of undated photographs of Epstein and Maxwell in a very close attitude was the target of criticism from the defense, one of whose lines of action consists, precisely, in separating as much as possible the existence of his client from that of the pedophile. The defense insists that Maxwell sit on the bench because Epstein didn’t, describing her as the scapegoat for a flawed process. “The relationship between Maxwell and Epstein is central to this case,” recalled, however, Alison Moe, assistant prosecutor, since the defense has tried to distance their lives and actions as if they were “watertight compartments.”
The four victims recounted to the district attorney, Alison Nathan, years of abuse, some of which involved the defendant, massaging the girls’ breasts or pushing them towards Epstein. The financier was included in 2008 in a registry of sexual offenders in Florida, within the framework of a judicial agreement that was also settled with a 13-month jail sentence applied loosely.
Of caso Epstein-Maxwell there is an important derivative: the summons to Prince Andrew of England to testify in 2022 for the “sexual assault” lawsuit filed in August in New York by Virginia Giuffre, who between 2000 and 2002, when the events allegedly occurred, was a minor . With her maiden name, Roberts, Virginia was the go-between for Carolyn, one of the four prosecution witnesses against Maxwell, to end up becoming the massage therapist from Epstein in Florida for $ 300 per session.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.