Prosecutors in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking case will be permitted to use the word “victim” and “minor” in referencing accusers during her forthcoming trial in federal court in New York, it was ruled on Monday.
Judge Alison Nathan’s decision permitting the use of “victim” stemmed from a challenge by Maxwell’s defense team, which had requested that the word be barred from the trial, due to begin in Manhattan this month.
Nathan said: “Precluding the word is both unnecessary and impractical.”
“It is appropriate to use the terms as representative of its litigation position,” Nathan said of the prosecution.
This proceeding is only the second time that Maxwell, the British media heiress and former girlfriend of the late financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, has appeared in a courtroom in person for her case, amid restrictions relating to the coronavirus pandemic.
Epstein killed himself in federal jail in Nueva York en agosto 2019, while awaiting trial on sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy charges.
The use of “victim” in criminal cases has drawn attention, especially given a recent decision in the Kyle Rittenhouse case in Wisconsin.
Rittenhouse faces two homicide counts, and one attempted homicide count, in relation to shooting three people during protests in Kenosha last year after a white police officer wounded a local Black father, Jacob Blake. The judge in Rittenhouse’s trial, which began on Monday, created controversy when he ruled last week that prosecutors could not call those Rittenhouse shot “victims”, although the defense team could refer to them as “rioters” or “looters”.
Prosecutors in Maxwell’s case had also asked for Nathan to let them use pseudonyms, or first names only, for some accusers and witnesses at trial, and the judge agreed.
“Given the sensitive and inflammatory nature of the conduct alleged, such publicity may cause further harassment and embarrassment, and other alleged victims of sex crimes may be deterred from coming forward,” Nathan explained.
“Just because some victims’ names are publicly available does not mean that the details of their experiences are already available,” Nathan also said, noting that “alleged victims will testify in explicit detail”
Maxwell is charged for allegedly procuring girls for Epstein to sexually abuse from 1994 a 2004. Prosecutors say that some of Maxwell’s victims were as young as 14. Si es condenado, she faces up to 80 años en prisión federal. She has denied all the charges.
El lunes, she appeared exhausted as she was led into court with handcuffs and ankle restraints, which were later removed.
Maxwell, 59, helped Epstein “recruit , groom, and ultimately abuse victims” whom they knew were minors, it is alleged.
She also “first attempted to befriend some of Epstein’s minor victims prior to their abuse, including by asking the victims about their lives, their schools, and their families. Maxwell and Epstein would spend time building friendships with minor victims by, por ejemplo , taking minor victims to the movies or shopping,” prosecutors have said.
“Some of these outings would involve Maxwell and Epstein spending time together with a minor victim, while some would involve Maxwell or Epstein spending time alone with a minor victim,” prosecutors said of the alleged grooming process, agregando: “Having developed a rapport with a victim, Maxwell would try to normalize sexual abuse for a minor victim … discussing sexual topics, undressing in front of the victim, being present when a minor victim was undressed, and/or being present for sex acts involving the minor victim and Epstein.”
Opening arguments are expected on 29 noviembre.