Trial in New York: Epstein’s “right hand”? Maxwell is charged with abuse

Ghislaine Maxwell is said to have enabled the abuse of minors by Jeffrey Epstein – as the prosecution puts it. Who is the woman who is said to have fed girls to her ex-partner “daily”?

At the start of the abuse trial against Jeffrey Epstein’s ex-partner Ghislaine Maxwell, the 59-year-old prosecutor accused the 59-year-old of complicity in serious sexual crimes against minors.

The accused was the “right hand” of the influential and notorious businessman Epstein in the crimes, said a prosecutor on Monday in her opening speech in front of the court in New York. The defense vehemently denied this representation.

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 many years in prison if convicted.

Maxwell had come into the Manhattan courtroom that morning wearing a light-colored sweater and black trousers, her chin-length hair down. She looked serious, focused, and showed little emotion.

Several times she leaned over to her lawyer in a whisper. There are impressions that seem to be diametrically opposed to the photos of the woman’s former luxury life: the mighty Epstein putting his arm around Maxwell and hugging her while she laughs into the camera. Maxwell with businessman Elon Musk after the Oscars. Maxwell with Donald Trump.

The defense of the 59-year-olds vehemently denied the presentation of the indictment on Monday 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.

Epstein was considered a charismatic man and eloquent blender who repeatedly led his counterparts astray. Her defense lawyers also attacked the four main witnesses. The alleged crimes were 15 to 25 years ago: “As we all know, memories fade over time.”

Maxwell’s ex-partner Epstein was accused of building a prostitution ring with dozens of underage female victims of abuse. A process in 2008 ended in a beneficial deal for Epstein that many considered a scandal.

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. Coroners concluded it was 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 property 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.

Ghislaine Maxwell is the daughter of the legendary British publisher Robert Maxwell (1923-1991) and came to New York in the early 1990s. She met Jeffrey Epstein at one of the numerous celebrity parties 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.

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.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 211129-99-192239 / 3 (dpa)

Federal prosecution

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