The spider in the web of Jeffrey Epstein? Ghislaine Maxwell trial begins

The trial of Ghislaine Maxwell (59) starts in New York. She is on trial for allegedly recruiting underage girls for her former lover Jeffrey Epstein and his entourage between 1994 and 2004. She has six charges in her name, including trafficking in women. Maxwell faces a life sentence but maintains her innocence. The process takes six weeks. Two years ago, billionaire Epstein was found dead in his cell.

Maxwell holds French, British, and American nationality. Her mother is descended from a prosperous British silk merchant, and her father was a media baron. After his death, she moved to New York. She met Jeffrey Epstein and first became his lover, later his best friend and right-hand man. On Epstein’s side, she popped up at parties in the 1990s where big stars were present. Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, and Prince Andrew also attended.

The prosecutors will portray Maxwell as the center of a network of underage girls, who supplied them to Epstein and his entourage. They would then also have to look for new victims themselves.

Jeffrey Epstein.
Jeffrey Epstein. ©AP

Four key witnesses

The prosecutors have four key witnesses. The crimes, they said, took place at Epstein’s properties in New York, Palm Beach, Santa Fe, and London. The defense is expected to try to create distance between Maxwell and Epstein.

In a Netflix documentary about the Epstein case, victims tell how Maxwell went through the grooming process: first, she befriended the girls, took them on a shopping trip, and promised them travel and money.

“Not committed any crime”

According to the indictment, Maxwell facilitated the abuse “by talking to the victims about sex”. For example, she would have encouraged them to massage Epstein and also to take off their clothes. Maxwell would also have been present at sexual encounters between Epstein and certain underage victims. However, the woman maintains her innocence. “I have not committed any crime,” it said during an introductory session.

Epstein was already on trial in Florida in 2008. The businessman then closed a deal with the prosecutor and was released thirteen months later. Detectives in New York, however, reopened the investigation and charged him again in 2019. He was charged with widespread abuse of minors. Unfortunately, Epstein’s victims were not given a chance for justice: on August 10, 2019, he was found dead in his cell in New York.

Arrested after manhunt

For Maxwell, Epstein’s arrest was the sign to disappear from the scene. She was arrested in New Hampshire on a 63-acre estate in early July after a manhunt. She has been locked up in New York for over a year now. In mid-November, she complained in the British Sunday newspaper ‘The Mail on Sunday’ that she had been mistreated in prison for a year and a half, that she was denied sleep and that she was only fed rotten food.

Not only Epstein’s shadow but also that of Britain’s Prince Andrew hangs over the trial. Prince Andrew, who was a guest at Epstein’s several times, is accused by the American Virginia Giuffre of sexual abuse when she was still a minor.

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