“Maxwell was Epstein’s best friend and righthand. … She was involved in every detail of Epstein’s life,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz stated in her opening statement after judge Alison Nathan seated and instructed the jury on the law this afternoon in Manhattan federal court.
Pomerantz went on to describe Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of teenage girls just to establish the defendant’s involvement in it for about a decade.
“The defendant helped Epstein find those girls. She helped him recruit girls for so-called massages. … Sometimes she was even in the room for the massages herself and, sometimes, she touched the girls’ bodies,” the attorney said.
She added that even when Maxwell was not in the room, “she knew exactly what Epstein was going to do to those children when she sent them to him inside the massage rooms.”
Per the government, the defendant performed an “essential role in this scheme” of abusing underaged girls, and “she knew exactly what she was doing. … She was setting young girls up to be molested by a predator.”
After the prosecutor’s opening, defense attempted to depict a completely different scenario to the jury, portraying that the defendant is actually “a scapegoat for a man who behaved badly.”
“Ever since Eve was accused of tempting Adam for 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,” attorney Bobbi Sternheim told the jurors.
In their opening statement, the defense tried to get the jurors to differentiate Ghislaine Maxwell from 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,” Sternheim stated.
Sternheim then went on to discredit the four accusers in this case.
“Each accuser who applied to the fund — who will testify here — received millions of dollars from Epstein’s estate, and it made it very easy for these women to include Ghislaine Maxwell when it really always was about Epstein.”
Per the defense, Ghislaine Maxwell is on trial only “because of her association” Epstein.
Maxwell’s attorney continued to play down the government’s case.
“This case is about memory, manipulation, and money. As you will see, the accusations that you will hear from the mouths of four accusers — not like the hundreds that the government suggested you would hear from — … things that have happened throughout the years, manipulated by a narcissistic man and self-interested civil lawyers, and a desire for a big jackpot of money.”
The prosecutors’ case will revolve around four women who will testify that they were teenage girls when they were abused by the pair from 1994 through 2004. However, defense will try to prove that at least two of the alleged victims were 17 years old when and where they say their incidents took place and, therefore, above the age of consent.
“Now, age of consent is an important factor that you will focus on. And you will learn that in New York, the age of consent is 17 years old,” Sternheim told the jurors.
Ghislaine Maxwell was brought into and out of the courtroom without handcuffs. She wore a crème-colored sweater and black pants for her first appearance for the jury. The defendant acknowledged her sister Isabel Maxwell, who was sitting in the first row. Maxwell hugged each of her lawyers as she entered the courtroom in the morning and then said goodbye individually before being escorted out by the U.S. Marshals.
The British socialite is being brought from the Brooklyn federal prison Metropolitan Detention Center, where she is being housed, to the Manhattan federal courthouse every day. The trial is expected to last six weeks.