NATIONAL NEWS

Defense set to make case Maxwell is taking fall for Epstein

Dec 16, 2021, 5:56 AM

The Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse stands in lower Manhattan where the trial for Britis...

The Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse stands in lower Manhattan where the trial for British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell for child sex-trafficking continues on December 03, 2021 in New York City. The 59-year-old Maxwell is accused of helping the financier Jeffrey Epstein recruit and sexually abuse underage girls for years. If convicted Maxwell could face up to 80 years in prison. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York City jury has heard four women detail accusations that they were teens when they became victims of a sex-abuse scheme devised by Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein. Starting Thursday, the British socialite’s attorneys are expected to make their case that Maxwell isn’t the one to blame.

Maxwell’s trial will resume with the defense calling its own witnesses in federal court in Manhattan. The government’s case lasted only two weeks and the defense case could last just two days. Both sides streamlined their witness lists without revealing why, making the trial end well short of an original six-week estimate.

The start of the defense case has already sparked the usual speculation about whether the high-profile defendant will take the witness stand in her own defense — a gamble that is almost never taken. Either way, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan will have to receive direct confirmation from Maxwell about her decision before the defense can rest.

Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty to charges she acted as Epstein’s chief enabler, recruiting and grooming young girls for him to abuse during sexual massages.

Maxwell was once Epstein’s girlfriend before becoming a trusted employee. Witnesses testified the pair exploited them between 1994 to 2004 at Epstein’s homes, including an estate in Palm Beach, Florida; his posh Manhattan townhouse; and a Santa Fe, New Mexico, ranch.

The defense has insisted that Maxwell is being made a scapegoat for alleged sex crimes by Epstein, who killed himself in jail in 2019. Her lawyers have sought to show that the accusers exaggerated her involvement at the behest of lawyers seeking payouts for the women from civil claims against the Epstein estate.

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Defense set to make case Maxwell is taking fall for Epstein