Five takeaways from the prosecution’s case at Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex abuse trial

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FILE PHOTO: Ghislaine Maxwell trial in New York

By Luc Cohen

– Prosecutors rested their case in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex abuse trial on Friday after two weeks of emotional testimony from four women who say Maxwell set them up for sexual encounters with Jeffrey Epstein when the women were teenagers.

Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking and other charges, and her lawyers have said she is being scapegoated for Epstein’s conduct since he is dead.

As Maxwell’s lawyers prepare to mount a defense, here are five takeaways from the prosecution’s case:

Accusers’ testimony placed Maxwell at the center of the alleged abuse by Epstein

All four accusers gave emotional testimony. Three of the four said Maxwell touched their breasts.

A woman identified as Carolyn said Maxwell once touched her at the age of 14 while she was preparing to massage Epstein.

“I was fully nude and she came in and she felt my boobs and my hips and my buttocks and said that … I had a great body for Mr. Epstein and his friends,” Carolyn said.

Jurors also heard from a woman known by the pseudonym Jane, who testified that Epstein sexually abused her when she was 14. Jane said Maxwell sometimes participated in their encounters, which often began as massages before escalating.

Prosecutors showed Maxwell and Epstein had a close, intimate relationship

A former house manager who worked at Epstein’s Palm Beach, Florida, estate from 1991 to 2002 testified that Maxwell was “lady of the house” and was with Epstein “95% of the time.”

Prosecutors later showed jurors more than a dozen photographs to demonstrate the intimacy of the relationship between Maxwell and Epstein in the 1990s. Two of them showed Maxwell rubbing Epstein’s bare foot while it pressed against her chest.

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Accusers said Epstein and Maxwell promised they would help them financially

Three of the four accusers said they were told as teenagers that Epstein and Maxwell could help them financially. Jane, a singer, said her family was struggling after her father’s death. She said Epstein and Maxwell told her when she was 14 that they were benefactors of her summer camp and awarded many student scholarships.

Another accuser, Annie Farmer, said she believed Epstein would help pay for her college education.

The accusers often grew agitated under cross-examination

Maxwell’s lawyers aggressively questioned the four women in an effort to undercut their testimony, questioning the accuracy of their memories and arguing they were motivated by money.

During cross-examination of Carolyn, an attorney for Maxwell pressed her about $3.25 million she received from a compensation fund set up for Epstein victims and whether she had an incentive to “stick to her story.”

“Why is that being mentioned more than once?” asked Carolyn. She later sobbed on the stand.

The prosecution lost some battles to the defense.

In a victory for Maxwell’s defense team, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan ruled that two of the accusers – Farmer and Kate – were old enough to consent during their alleged encounters with Epstein and that their contact with him could not be considered “illegal,” as prosecutors had alleged in the indictment.

Prosecutors, however, did not have to drop any charges against Maxwell as a result since neither Farmer nor Kate was the sole alleged victim underlying any of the six counts she faces.

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Nathan also criticized prosecutors after they revealed Jane had called her brother after her testimony. Prosecutors had expected to call Jane’s brother as a witness to corroborate her account.

Prosecutors withdrew their plans to call Jane’s brother after Nathan told them that “best practice” would dictate they should have clearly told Jane not to discuss her testimony with other potential witnesses.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Peter Cooney)


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