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USA: Day 7: Ghislaine Maxwell Trial: The defense starts to make their case

Ghislaine Maxwell‘s defence attorneys have formally requested that witnesses they call for the socialite’s sex trafficking trial be allowed to testify anonymously to avoid “unwanted attention”.

“People who testify might get a lot of unwanted attention, especially if they are testifying on behalf of Ms Maxwell,” Christian Everdell told the court after the prosecution case rested on Friday.

Judge Alison Nathan said she would take the request under consideration.

Ms Maxwell’s attorneys have said they intend to call up to 35 potential witnesses when the trial resumes on Thursday.

Meanwhile, writing on Bari Weiss’s substack Common Sense, Amanda Knox says she feels sympathry for Ms Maxwell and “former girlboss extraordinaire” Elizabeth Holmes, who is on trial for defrauding Theranos investors and patients.

Ms Knox was convicted and later acquitted of the murder of her former roommate Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy. Rudy Guede was convicted of the murder and tried to implicate Ms Knox.

“I know very well what it’s like to be scapegoated for a man’s crimes and to be a victim of true coercion. If there is anyone who can empathise—and sympathise—with these two women, it’s me,” Ms Knox wrote.

“But even for me, it’s not easy… I can’t help but balk at their defense strategies, which seem like a refusal to be held accountable.”

Ghislaine Maxwell trial: Most explosive revelations so far from inside the courtroom

Ghislaine Maxwell’s two week old trial has seen graphic testimony from four accusers, wealthy and powerful individuals name-dropped, and taken jurors inside the extreme wealth of the late paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

The government’s case against Ms Maxwell, 59, centres around her decades-long relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.

It alleges she operated as his enabler in luring vulnerable teenage girls with promises of scholarships, attention and financial assistance for their families, and coerced them into becoming objects for his sexual gratification.

This later expanded to a “pyramid scheme of abuse”, according to prosecutors, in which young girls already in Epstein’s orbit would offer to recruit classmates and friends with the promise of easy money.

Here are some of the most explosive revelations so far…

Defence witnesses in Ghislaine Maxwell trial ask to testify under pseudonyms

Lawyers for Ghislaine Maxwell have asked for some witnesses to have their real names withheld to avoid “unwanted attention”.

After the prosecution case rested on Friday, Christian Everdell asked Judge Alison Nathan if defence witnesses could take the stand under pseudonyms.

“People who testify might get a lot of unwanted attention, especially if they are testifying on behalf of Ms Maxwell,” Mr Everdell told the court.

Judge Nathan said she would take the request under consideration.

In filings to the court, Ms Maxwell’s attorneys have said they intend to call up to 35 potential witnesses.

The defence case gets underway on Thursday, and they have indicated they expect it to last up to four days.

Ms Maxwell faces six charges; sex trafficking of a minor, enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and three conspiracy charges relating to the three offences.

She has pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Analysis: Defence lawyers face tough challenge separating Maxwell from Epstein’s crimes

As Ghislaine Maxwell’s attorneys prepare to open the defense in her trial for sex trafficking minors, they face difficult time persuading jurors that she played no role in Jeffrey Epstein’s crimes, according to Reuters.

Prosecutors called four accusers who placed Ms Maxwell at the centre of Epstein’s sexual abuse of minors, luring them in as a trusted, sisterly figure for Epstein to prey upon.

Legal experts told Reuters the “remarkably similar accounts” would undermine the expected defence argument that Ms Maxwell has become a “scapegoat” for Epstein’s crimes.

“The government has done a good job of keeping the jury focused on Maxwell,” said former federal prosecutor Sarah Krissoff.

“The government will argue that the fact that each victim has a different story – and didn’t exaggerate Maxwell’s role in that story – demonstrates the credibility of those accounts.”

Under intensive cross examination, defence attorneys challenged the accusers’ credibility and argued their memories had been corrupted by the promise of large payouts from the Epstein compensation fund.

Jeffrey Cohen, an associate professor at Boston College Law School, told the news agency the defence was likely to argue the cross-examination shows they were “out for vengeance and clouded by passion”.

The defence did successfully argue that two of the accusers, Annie Farmer, and a British woman who testified under the pseudonym “Kate”, were old enough to consent at the time of their alleged abuse.

Their testimony showed patterns of abuse that backed up the other accusers, one who gave evidence under the pseudonym “Jane”, and another who testified under her first name Carolyn.

Testimony from Kate and Ms Farmer showed “strikingly similar patterns of behaviour on Maxwell’s part,” that bolstered Jane’s and Carolyn’s testimony, Deborah Tuerkheimer, a professor at Northwestern University School of Law, told Reuters.

Ghislaine Maxwell trial: Who are the key courtroom figures?

Prosecutors in the Ghislaine Maxwell trial have rested their case, which centres around the testimony of four accusers who testified how Ms Maxwell allegedly recruited and groomed girls on behalf of her one-time boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein.

She has assembled a formidable team of lawyers to argue her case, at a cost of as much as $7 million, including so-called “super lawyer” Bobbi Sternheim and three other experienced trial lawyers Jeffrey Pagliuca, Christian Everdell and Laura Menninger.

For the prosecution, Maurene Comey leads a team of four US District Attorney’s from the Southern District of New York.

Judge Alison Nathan is presiding over the trial.

Amanda Knox says she knows what it’s like to be ‘held accountable for the crimes of men’

Amanda Knox says while she can sympathise with Ghislaine Maxwell for being blamed for Jeffrey Epstein’s crimes, the evidence against her seems “pretty damning”.

Writing on Bari Weiss’s substack Common Sense, Ms Knox says she has been closely following the trials of Ms Maxwell and “former girlboss extraordinaire” Elizabeth Holmes.

Both defendants have sought to cast former romantic partners as being to blame for the crimes they are accused of.

Ms Holmes is on trial in California for defrauding investors of Theranos, and her defence has focused on the actions of the former president and COO of the company Sunny Balwani.

Ms Knox was found guilty before later being acquitted of the murder of her former roommate Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy. The real killer, Rudy Guede, blamed Ms Knox for the crime, and was released from prison last month.

“When it comes to being held accountable for the crimes of men, and being manipulated by other, powerful men within a system and situation wildly out of your control . . . hi, my name is Amanda Knox,” she writes.

“I know very well what it’s like to be scapegoated for a man’s crimes and to be a victim of true coercion. If there is anyone who can empathise—and sympathise—with these two women, it’s me.

“But even for me, it’s not easy… I can’t help but balk at their defense strategies, which seem like a refusal to be held accountable.

“While it’s true that even powerful women can yet remain subservient to powerful men, we shouldn’t forget that the most vulnerable people in these equations are not Maxwell and Holmes, but the victims they are trying to brush aside or discredit,” she wrote on Ms Weiss’s Substack.

FBI found diamonds, cash, passports and hard drives after cracking open Epstein’s safe in 2019 raid

Photos taken during an FBI raid on Jeffrey Epstein’s eight-story townhouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side in 2019 have been released for the first time.

Among the images shown to the jury in Ghislaine Maxwell’s underage sex-trafficking trial was one showing a safe found in a fifth-floor dressing room that was sawed open by the FBI and contained hard drives, CDs, diamonds, a large amount of US currency, and passports belonging to Epstein.

FBI special agent Kelly Maguire testified last week in Ms Maxwell’s trial at the Manhattan federal court.

She led the team that searched the 40-room, 19,000 square foot property at 9 East 71st Street on 6 and 7 July 2019 and walked the jury through what the photos depicted.

Ms Maguire said the search team found a safe in a closet in a fifth floor dressing room and pulled it into the middle of the room.

When asked by a US assistant attorney how they opened the safe, she replied: “We brought a saw.”

Who is Ghislaine Maxwell’s secret husband?

Ghislaine Maxwell’s secret husband, Scott Borgerson is a 44-year-old millionaire tech CEO and ex-military officer.

The tech founder is now thought to have moved on romantically although reports suggest he and Maxwell, 59, are still married.

It is thought that the pair were married in 2016, although it wasn’t until July 2020 that details of their marriage emerged when court papers supporting Maxwell’s bail application showed she had transferred all her assets to a trust under his control.

Maxwell later told court chiefs that she didn’t want her husband to suffer from “being associated with her” and so she had tried to file for a divorce ahead of her arrest.

Ghislaine Maxwell: Socialite’s life of luxury with rich and royal friends

Ghislaine Maxwell was once a “sophisticated” and “very impressive” British socialite until her affiliation with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein led to her detention for alleged sex trafficking.

The daughter of disgraced media tycoon Robert Maxwell the 59-year-old attempted to start a new life in Manhattan after his death in 1991 and met Epstein the following year.

Mr Maxwell was found drowned after apparently falling from his yacht – called Lady Ghislaine – off the Tenerife coast.

What to expect from the defence case

With Ghislaine Maxwell’s defence case due to begin, what exactly should we expect from it?

On Friday, the defence suggested that they may call upon up to 35 witnesses for the next part of the trial. It was also disclosed that some of these witnesses may wish to remain anonymous.

During her opening statement to the jury at the start of the trial, defence counsel Bobbi Sternheim suggested that the charges against Maxwell were for “things Jeffrey Epstein did”.

Court documents which were previously submitted by the defence, suggest Maxwell’s counsel expect to challenge the accusations against her. They will do this by claiming that the accusers may have “false or distorted memories.”

As yet, whether or not Maxwell will testify remains unknown.

How Ghislaine Maxwell met Jeffrey Epstein

She spent decades rubbing shoulders with British royals and US presidents.

Now British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell is set to stand trial in a New York courtroom on sex trafficking charges, and faces decades behind bars if convicted. The trial is set to beging on Monday, 29 November.

Ms Maxwell, the daughter of the late media mogul Robert Maxwell, told a 2016 deposition that she met Jeffrey Epstein, then a wealthy financier, in 1991 through a mutual friend.

What are the charges in the Ghislaine Maxwell sex abuse trial?

The trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite accused of recruiting and grooming girls for deceased financier Jeffrey Epstein to abuse, got underway on Monday in New York federal court.

Ghislaine Maxwell trial: Who are the key courtroom figures?

After nearly 17 months in jail, Ghislaine Maxwell will finally have her day in court as her trial for underage sex trafficking gets underway in Manhattan’s federal court on Monday.

After months of pre-trial hearings, prosecutors will deliver opening arguments on how Ms Maxwell allegedly recruited and groomed girls on behalf of her one-time boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein.

The spectre of Epstein, who killed himself in August 2019 while awaiting trial, is likely to hang heavily over the trial,

Maxwell asked 16-year-old to undress, massaged her breast

One of the four accusers, Annie Farmer, told the court on Friday that she was shown by Ghislaine Maxwell about how to give Jeffrey Epstein a foot massage.

“Maxwell wanted to show me how to rub his foot because that was something she thought I should learn how to do,” she told the court.

Ms Farmer, who has decided not to go by a pseudonym, said: “I felt very uncomfortable – I didn’t want to be touching his foot. I wanted to stop and I was hoping it would be over quickly.”

The woman added that she was asked by Ms Maxwell if she “had ever had a professional massage and talked about what a lovely experience it was.”

“She wanted me to have that experience and she would be happy to give me a massage and encouraged me to say yes.”

Full report on this by Josh Payne here

Ghislaine Maxwell hearing so far: All you need to know

After two weeks of explosive accusations against Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, the prosecutors on Friday rested their case.

Labelled “dangerous” and a “predator”, Maxwell has been widely accused of luring and grooming teenage girls for her partner Epstein.

In the last two weeks, Ms Maxwell was accused of summoning a 14-year-old girl for an orgy, groping another teenager and bringing out a schoolgirl outfit for the third accuser before setting her up for a sexualised massage.

Nearly two dozen photos confirming the intimate relationship between Epstein and Maxwell were also presented to the jury last week, giving a peak into how their operations were carried out.

Josh Payne reports here

Maxwell’s legal team may bring in as many as 35 witnesses

As it prepares to testify this week, Ghislaine Maxwell defense team is likely to bring 35 witnesses, court documents show.

On Friday evening, the defense informed the government via a letter that it identifies 35 witnesses in alphabetical order with no information about the order in which these witnesses will be called.

It is also reported that three of the total 35 want to testify under pseudonyms or just their first names, similar to the three accusers who testified against Ms Maxwell and Epstein. The request has been opposed by the prosecutors.

Ghislaine Maxwell believes Epstein was murdered in prison, brother says

Ghislaine Maxwell’s brother has said that the British socialite believes her former partner Jeffrey Epstein was murdered, akin to the same belief she had for her father’s death.

Epstein died by suicide and was found dead in his jail cell in August 2019.

In an interview with The Spectator’s Americano podcast, Ian Maxwell said that he does not buy conspiracy theories “at all”.

“It so happens that one of the conspiracy theories is about my father, that he was murdered,” said Mr Maxwell, who has been present physically in the court through the course of trial so far.

“Of all my siblings, Ghislaine is the only one who happens to believe that he [Robert Maxwell] was murdered.”

He added: “And I would venture to believe that she may also think that Epstein was murdered,” he said.

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