Closing arguments are set to begin today in the Ghislaine Maxwell trial

Dec 20, 2021, 7:43 AM
The Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse where the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell is being held o...
The Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse where the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell is being held on Nov. 29, 2021, in New York City. Maxwell, the daughter of late media mogul Robert Maxwell is on trial for sex trafficking. Maxwell is expected to challenge claims she groomed underage girls for deceased and convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein for sexual abuse. (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

(CNN) — Closing arguments are set to begin Monday morning in Manhattan in the federal trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, the longtime confidante of Jeffrey Epstein.

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 prosecution’s closing argument will be two to three hours in length, they said Friday, and the rebuttal summation should last about 45 minutes. Defense attorneys said their summation will not exceed that time frame.

The jury will then have two days to deliberate before the court is closed Thursday and Friday for the Christmas holidays. Jurors can return to continue deliberating the following week if necessary.

‘Pyramid scheme of abuse’

Prosecutors said during opening statements in November Maxwell and Epstein used cash to lure underage girls into their “pyramid scheme of abuse,” where prosecutor Lara Pomerantz told jurors that in the 1990s, Maxwell would procure girls for Epstein for sexual abuse via the “ruse” of a massage.

Epstein, 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 was arrested in 2020.

Four key witnesses testified for the prosecution against Maxwell, all women who allege Epstein sexually abused them when they were under 18. Three of the four accusers used pseudonyms or only first names to protect their privacy.

“Jane” said on the stand Maxwell sometimes joined in on the sexualized massages. “Kate” testified Maxwell set up those sexual meetings. Carolyn testified Maxwell once touched her breasts, hips and butt and told her she “had a great body for Epstein and his friends.” She was 14 at the time, she said.

The fourth woman, Annie Farmer, testified she was 16 years old when Maxwell massaged her naked chest at Epstein’s New Mexico ranch in 1996.

Two dozen witnesses were called across 10 days of testimony before the prosecution rested. In photos shown to jurors, Maxwell and Epstein are seen embracing and smiling for the camera over the years, including several showing her massaging his foot.

“Their relevance is self-apparent, given the contents of the photographs,” prosecutor Alison Moe said. “The relationship between Maxwell and Epstein is central to this case.”

Defense rested Friday

The defense rested Friday after presenting its case over the course of two days, arguing Maxwell is being scapegoated for Epstein’s criminal behavior and seeking to dispute the accusers’ statements.

Attorneys called to the stand Eva Andersson-Dubin, who testified she dated Epstein on and off from 1983 through about 1991. She confirmed she and her now-husband, hedge fund billionaire Glenn Dubin, remained friends with Epstein through the 2000s.

In response to questioning by the defense, Andersson-Dubin said she had never participated in group sexualized massages with one of the accusers, referred to as “Jane,” who had earlier testified she recalled a woman named Eva had joined group sexualized massages with Epstein and Maxwell.

Asked Friday if she’d ever been involved in such a scenario with Jane, she responded, “Absolutely not.”

A prosecutor clarified on cross-examination Eva Andersson-Dubin is not necessarily the only Eva to have ever interacted with Epstein, suggesting “Jane” could have been referring to someone else.

On Thursday, as part of the defense’s effort to undermine the accusers’ testimony, a psychologist and professor at the University of California Irvine testified about false memories, telling the court people can be exposed to misinformation about an event after the fact and incorporate it into their memory, making it inaccurate.

“Even traumatic experiences can be subjected to post-event suggestion that can exaggerate, distort or change the memory,” Dr. Elizabeth Loftus said.

Maxwell declined to testify Friday, telling Judge Alison Nathan when asked if 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 wasn’t present.

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Closing arguments are set to begin today in the Ghislaine Maxwell trial