Jurors deliberated for less than an hour Monday at Ghislaine Maxwell’s federal trial after the prosecution and defense presented closing arguments that focused on her relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.
As the prosecutors argued, Maxwell manipulated and enticed vulnerable girls as a key accomplice in Epstein’s extensive scheme to sexually abuse underage girls.
“Maxwell and Epstein were a wealthy couple who used their privilege to prey on kids from struggling families,” prosecutor Alison Moe said. “The way that they selected these girls tells you that they were targeting vulnerable kids. It is not an accident that Jane and Kate and Annie and Carolyn all came from single-mother households.”
In response, Maxwell’s defense used its closing argument to attack the motivations of the women who testified about the abuse and to contend that Maxwell’s association with Epstein is not criminal.
“She’s being tried here for being with Jeffrey Epstein, and maybe that was the biggest mistake of her life, but it was not a crime,” attorney Laura Menninger told the jury.
Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty to six federal counts, including sex trafficking of minors, enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and three related counts of conspiracy. If convicted on all six counts, she faces up to 70 years in prison.
The jury deliberated for less than an hour Monday before adjourning for the day. They are expected to return Tuesday morning at 9 a.m.
The closing arguments come after a three-week trial highlighted by testimony from four women who alleged Epstein sexually abused them and that Maxwell facilitated and sometimes participated in that abuse. The abuse occurred when they were younger than 18 and their accusations stretched from 1994 to 2004.
“Jane” testified that Maxwell organized sexual massages with Epstein and sometimes joined in the abuse. “Kate” testified Maxwell set up those sexual meetings. Carolyn testified Maxwell touched her breasts, hips and butt and told her – when she was 14 – she “had a great body for Epstein and his friends.” Finally, Annie Farmer testified she was 16 when Maxwell massaged her naked chest at Epstein’s New Mexico ranch in 1996.
The defense rested Friday after presenting its case over two days. They argued that Maxwell is being scapegoated for Epstein’s criminal behavior and tried to attack the women’s memories and motivations.
Maxwell declined to testify Friday, telling Judge Alison Nathan when asked whether she understood her rights: “Your honor, the government has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt. And so there is no need for me to testify.” The jury was not present.
Epstein, the elusive financier who pleaded guilty in 2008 to state prostitution charges, was indicted on federal sex trafficking charges in July 2019 but died by suicide in prison a month later. Maxwell, his close companion and longtime associate, was arrested in 2020.
Prosecution links Maxwell to Epstein
While the four women’s testimony is the crux of the charges, the prosecution has also focused on closely linking Maxwell to Epstein. For example, the prosecution showed a series of photos to jurors of the two embracing and smiling together over the years, including several images of her massaging his foot.
In closing arguments, the prosecution said that close relationship was key to the abuse.
“When you’re with someone for 11 years, you know what they like,” Moe said. “Epstein liked underaged girls. He liked to touch underaged girls. Maxwell knew it. Make no mistake, Maxwell was crucial to the whole scheme. Epstein could not have done this alone.”
Maxwell normalized physical touch and sexuality to the alleged victims she groomed for Epstein, the prosecution argued.