Opening statements begin in Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial

Opening statements are underway in the hotly anticipated trial of Ghislaine Maxwell — the longtime alleged madam of powerful pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself in 2019 while charged with sexually abusing underage girls.

Manhattan federal court prosecutor’s Monday started laying the case against the British socialite, 59, who has been held since July 2020.

Maxwell — the youngest child of late publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell — stands accused of helping Epstein to “recruit, groom and ultimately abuse” girls as young as 14, according to the indictment against her.

Maxwell was dressed in a cream sweater with black pants and brought by US Marshals to the courtroom. Maxwell arrived at 8:30 am.

The six counts she faces — including sex-trafficking of minors — stem from the allegations of four women who say they were abused by Epstein and Maxwell between 1994 and 2004 when they were teenagers.

Prosecutors allege that Maxwell groomed the teens knowing they would be preyed on by her ex-boyfriend and best buddy — and even took part in the abuse.

Ghislaine Maxwell enters the courtroom escorted by U.S. Marshalls at the start of her trial, Monday, November 29, 2021.
Ghislaine Maxill is escorted into the courtroom by U.S. Marshalls during the beginning of her trial on Monday, November 29, 2021.
AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams

A mass media presence attended the start of her trial. They arrived early in the morning to try and get a place in the courtroom, or one of the other rooms that had live audio/video feeds.

They were joined by members of the general public. This included alleged victims like Sarah Ransome who filed a lawsuit against them in 2017 alleging that they forced her to perform sex acts between 2006 and 2007. A year later, the federal case against Ransome was settled.

“I never thought this day would come,” Ransome told reporters Monday morning outside of the courthouse

 Isabel Maxwell, leaves a pretrial conference in the Ghislane Maxwell case at the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Isabel Maxwell leaves the United States District Court for Southern District of New York for a pre-trial conference.
James Keivom

One of Maxwell’s three sisters, Isabel, and Lisa Bloom, the attorney representing some of Epstein’s alleged victims, were also spotted arriving at the Lower Manhattan courthouse.

“We encourage everyone to allow the evidence to unfold in court and to exercise restraint and respect for the administration of criminal justice,” Maxwell’s siblings tweeted from their joint account, @RealGhislaineThis will be Monday morning.

Inside the courtroom, the first order of business was to finalize jury selection: Picking the 12 jurors and six alternates who will hear Maxwell’s case from a pool of 40 to 60 people who made it through initial questioning.

 Sarah Ransome, a victim of Jeffery Epstein arrives for the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell at the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse on November 29, 2021.
Sarah Ransome (a victim of Jeffery Epstein) arrives at Thurgood Marsh United States Courthouse to witness Ghislaine Maxiwell in her trial. The hearing will take place on November 29th, 2021.
David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Maxwell sat at the defence table and seemed relaxed. She exchanged glances and smiled with her sister who was in front row.

Maxwell kept a lot of notes and sometimes gave them to her lawyers.

About two dozen spectators were in the courtroom, including, for a time, US Attorney Damian Williams, who at one point sat up straight to get a good look at Maxwell.

Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, points to a photo of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, during a news conference in New York.
Audrey Strauss is the acting U.S. attorneys for New York’s Southern District. She points out a photo of Jeffrey Epstein & GhislaineMaxwell during a New York press conference.
AP Photo/John Minchillo.

The Oxford-educated blue blood has been held in a Brooklyn jail since she was arrested at a $1 million New Hampshire estate, where she escaped to following Epstein’s suicide in August 2019. She has denied the charges, and her attorneys have repeatedly claimed she’s being scapegoated for the government’s failure to bring Epstein to trial.

The July 2019 arrest of the sick financier was the result of an inexplicable 2008 deal between the Justice Department and the Justice Department, which allowed him to plead guilty instead to Florida state charges. He served just 13 months prison time.

Maxwell holds American, French, British and British citizenships. However, bail has not been granted to her indefinitely while she awaits trial. Maxwell’s lawyers claim that she was subject to sexual abuse during daily pat down searches by Metropolitan Detention Center guards.

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