By Luc Cohen
NEW YORK – Jury deliberations are expected to continue in New York on Wednesday in the sex abuse trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite charged by U.S. prosecutors with recruiting and grooming underage girls for the late financier Jeffrey Epstein to abuse.
The following is an explanation of the charges against Maxwell and how she defended herself against them:
THE MANN ACT CHARGES
Maxwell is charged with two counts of violating the Mann Act, which bars transporting people across state lines for illegal sexual activity.
Those charges relate mainly to the testimony of a woman known by the pseudonym Jane, who testified that Epstein first abused her when she was 14 in 1994, and that Maxwell participated in some of their sexual encounters.
Jane said that she traveled from her home in Palm Beach, Florida, to Epstein’s homes in New York and New Mexico, where she had sexual encounters with him. She said she traveled on Epstein’s private plane and on commercial flights, and that Maxwell assisted with the travel arrangements.
Maxwell also faces two charges of conspiring to violate the Mann Act.
THE SEX TRAFFICKING CHARGES
Maxwell also faces one charge of sex trafficking of a minor and one charge of sex trafficking conspiracy. Federal law bars recruiting or transporting anyone under 18 to participate in a “commercial sex act.”
Those charges relate mostly to the testimony of Carolyn, the first name of a woman who said she was 14 in 2002 when she first had sexual contact with Epstein. She testified that Maxwell sometimes paid her hundreds of dollars after she gave Epstein erotic massages.
She also said Maxwell would call her to schedule massage appointments for Epstein, and would sometimes send a cab or a town car to come pick her up at home and bring her to Epstein’s estate.
Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges. Her lawyers have argued that prosecutors are treating her as a scapegoat for Epstein, who died by suicide in 2019 in a Manhattan jail while awaiting trial on sex abuse charges.
They say the accusers’ memories have been corrupted over the decades and that the women only implicated Maxwell because they thought cooperating with prosecutors would help claims they made to a victims’ compensation fund run by Epstein’s estate.
DO PROSECUTORS HAVE TO PROVE MAXWELL KNEW ABOUT EPSTEIN’S CONDUCT?
In her closing argument on Monday, Maxwell defense attorney Laura Menninger said Epstein kept many secrets from her, arguing that prosecutors had not proven that Maxwell knew that Epstein was having sexual encounters with teenage girls.
In her rebuttal, prosecutor Maurene Comey countered, “Of course she knew.”
Still, prosecutors are not required to prove that Maxwell had specific knowledge of any crimes Epstein committed if they show that she deliberately took steps to avoid confirming key facts, according to an instruction U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan gave jurors before they began deliberations late on Monday afternoon.
(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Alistair Bell, Noeleen Walder and Grant McCool)