Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial – in pictures

Ghislaine Maxwell gave little away as the jury handed down its guilty verdict in her sex-trafficking trial on Wednesday, standing in a black face mask with her hands folded.

The jury had come to its decision after a trial in which lawyers and witnesses for the 59-year-old British socialite had argued that she was being scapegoated for the wrongdoing of close confidant Jeffrey Epstein, the financier who took his life awaiting trial on similar charges in August 2019.

Meanwhile, prosecutors had portrayed Maxwell as intimately aligned with Epstein and his activities, both emotionally and financially.

In opening arguments, prosecutor Lara Elizabeth Pomerantz said the trial would hinge largely on testimony by four victims who would accuse Maxwell of grooming them for abuse by Epstein between 1994 and 2004, when some were minors.

Three Jane Does – Carolyn, Jane and Kate – as well as artist Annie Farmer gave evidence during the trial. Pomerantz said Maxwell played an essential role in abusing young girls, saying she “manipulated them and served them up to be sexually abused”. Maxwell, she said, was motivated to satisfy Epstein’s sexual desires in order to maintain her jet-set lifestyle.

The sex-trafficking trial drew a wide range of onlookers, including Sarah Ransome, who recently published a book about her experiences on Epstein’s Caribbean island. Others standing sentinel were members of the Q-anon conspiracy group, who linked Maxwell to far-fetched beliefs of a Democratic party child sex ring centered on a Washington pizza parlor, victims rights attorney Lisa Bloom and members of Maxwell’s family.

Maxwell’s defense attorneys sought to undermine the credibility of her four accusers, arguing that their memories of Maxwell’s involvement had been embellished over time and that they now wrongfully implicated Maxwell in Epstein’s crimes.

Bobbi Sternheim, Maxwell’s lead defense attorney, told the court that “ever since Eve was tempting Adam with the apple, women have been blamed for the bad behavior of men, and women are often villainized and punished more than the men ever are.”

She continued: “The charges against Ghislaine Maxwell are for things that Jeffrey Epstein did, but she is not Jeffrey Epstein, she is not like Jeffrey Epstein, and she is not like any of the other men, powerful men, moguls, media giants who abuse women.”

During the trail, defense lawyers sought to capitalize on witness testimony that strayed from the central charges, including the testimony of Juan Alessi, a housekeeper and driver for Epstein.

Alessi said he was told to pick up an accuser known as Jane from her school and deliver her to Maxwell, but went on to testify that during his time working for Epstein he’d seen topless women lounging around the pool hundreds of times. “There were many, many females,” he added. “Most of them appeared to be in their late 20s or 30s.”

The three victims who testified under pseudonyms – Carolyn, Jane and Kate – offered the court often harrowing accounts of their (alleged) experiences under Maxwell’s direction at Epstein’s properties.

All three described how, as teenagers, they were drawn into intimate conversations with Maxwell, who then arranged massages with Epstein that then led to sexual encounters in exchange for cash and gifts. Carolyn – 14 at the time – claimed Maxwell had touched her breasts, hips and buttocks and told her she had “a great body for Epstein and his friends”.

A fourth witness, Annie Farmer, testified that she’d been told by Maxwell to get undressed and lie on a massage table at Epstein’s New Mexico ranch. Maxwell, she testified, “pulled the sheet down and exposed my breasts, and started rubbing on my chest and on my upper breast”.

Ghislaine Maxwell has appeared confident and composed throughout the trial, even sketching the court artists.

Photographs shown in court, including this one that some say was taken at the Queen’s Balmoral estate, were seized by US authorities after Epstein was arrested in July 2019 when FBI agents searched Epstein’s townhouse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Prosecutors said agents had seized hundreds of pictures, some featuring nude or partially nude young women and girls. Those that the court released mostly showed Maxwell and Epstein in holiday settings. Defense lawyers objected their release, arguing it could not be shown that the images were unaltered and it was unnecessary for prosecutors to place multiple pictures into evidence.

Maxwell gives Epstein a foot massage on the financier’s Boeing 727 – called “Air Lolita” by some – and a plane that flight logs revealed in court show had once carried passengers Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. The plane’s pilot, the first witness in the case, testified that it had been outfitted with a purple carpet.

In another undated photo Maxwell and Epstein take to the hills on a trailbike.

Sarah Kellen and Nada Marcinkova, both former Epstein assistants, were questioned by lawyers about whether Prince Andrew had any involvement in Epstein’s abuse of underage girls. They were among four named Epstein associates identified by US prosecutors as “potential co-conspirators” in a controversial plea deal Epstein struck in 2007, after admitting he solicited prostitution from a minor. The women have since reinvented themselves as Nadia Marcinko and Sarah Kensington.

Outside the court, advocates for survivors of child sex trafficking said the Maxwell trial was a rare case in which prosecutors were attempting to hold a perpetrator accountable. The Polaris Project, which runs the US National Human Trafficking Hotline, has said it has recorded 14,597 probable victims of sex trafficking, with 17 being the average age “of entry”.

A supporter of Never Stand Alone, a rights group dedicated to survivors of abuse from plain communities. The group says its mission is “to ensure that no one walks their path alone as a survivor, and no one stands alone when facing their abuser in the courtroom”.

A week into the trial, Maxwell’s family wrote to US attorney general Merrick Garland to appeal for “immediate improvements” in her detention conditions. A two-page letter, signed by all of Maxwell’s surviving siblings, claimed she had “received minimal sustenance during the first week for each whole court day – sometimes no food at all.”

Jennifer Kalin, who has never publicly told her story, also appeared at the courthouse in Lower Manhattan. Her attorney, Bradley Edwards, said Kalin had been ensnared by Epstein, abused and forced into marriage. “She realizes people are sticking their necks out and testifying and wants them to know they’re not alone,” Edwards told the Daily Beast.

Maxwell’s defense had wanted to call Bradley Edwards, who represented the victim known as Kate, but were denied by judge Alison Nathan. Their purpose, it seemed, was to draw further attention to the Epstein Victim Compensation Fund, which has paid out about $150m to victims of the financier, including Kate, who received $3.2m, and Carolyn, who received $2.8m.

As the trial wound down, defense lawyers could be seen removing boxes from the federal courthouse. As they were deliberating, jurors requested to review testimony of three of four women who testified against Maxwell.

Comments are closed.