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Closing Arguments Delivered in Sex Trafficking Trial of Ghislaine Maxwell

The trial of Ghislaine Maxwell ended Monday, with prosecutors arguing that she recruited and groomed teenage girls so financier Jeffery Epstein could sexually abuse them, and her defense attorneys maintaining her innocence.

The prosecution and defense delivered closing arguments in the four-week trial of Maxwell, 59, a former Epstein associate who pleaded not guilty to charges of sex trafficking and other crimes. 

Federal prosecutors argued that Maxwell’s predation of teenage girls allowed Epstein’s abuse. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Moe said the financier could not have abused his victims for over a decade without Maxwell’s help.

“Ghislaine Maxwell was dangerous,” Moe told the jury. She described her as the “lady of the house,” referring to her role in facilitating Epstein’s abuse at a New York mansion, a Florida estate and a New Mexico ranch.

Moe also pointed to the monetary benefits Maxwell gained from her time with Epstein, stating that she accepted over $30 million from him over the years.

“Maxwell and Epstein committed horrifying crimes,” Moe said.

Defense attorneys, however, continued to argue that Maxwell was not complicit in Epstein’s crimes, saying the prosecution failed to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

“Ghislaine Maxwell is an innocent woman, wrongfully accused of crimes she did not commit,” said defense lawyer Laura Menninger.

The defense returned to its original argument that Maxwell had been made a scapegoat for Epstein’s crimes after he killed himself in a Manhattan jail in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

“Ghislaine Maxwell is not Jeffrey Epstein,” Menninger said.

Moe took a drastically different stance on Maxwell’s role in Epstein’s sexual abuse, asserting that Maxwell is a “sophisticated predator who knew exactly what she was doing.”

“She ran the same playbook again and again and again,” Moe said. “She manipulated her victims and groomed them. She caused deep and lasting harm to young girls. It is time to hold her accountable.”

The closing arguments took place after the court heard from two dozen prosecution witnesses, including four women who said they had been abused by Epstein, with Maxwell’s help, as teenagers.

The defense had attempted to discredit the women’s testimonies. Menninger suggested they were motivated to testify against Maxwell by the possibility of receiving a payout from a victim’s compensation fund established by Epstein’s estate after his death, according to Reuters.

“The money brought the accusers to the FBI,” said Menninger, who stated the women had personal injury lawyers accompany them at interviews with law enforcement agencies decades after the abuse occurred.

Maxwell’s lawyers had a psychology professor testify to demonstrate that memories can fade over time and are subject to the external influence of what people hear, see or read. Menninger argued that Epstein’s accusers’ testimonies were manipulated.

“Memories have been manipulated in aid of the money,” she said.

Moe asked the jury to ignore this testimony and told them to trust the women’s stories.

“These women know what happened to their own bodies,” she stated. “Your common sense tells you that being molested is something you never forget, ever.”

Menninger attempted to question the accusers’ credibility, citing instances when her accusers failed to mention Maxwell while recounting Epstein’s abuse. Menninger argued the women suddenly “recovered memories that Ghislaine was there.”

During closing arguments, Judge Alison Nathan directed lawyers to keep their statements concise so that the jury could begin deliberating as early as Monday.

Maxwell has been held without bail since her July 2020 arrest. The judge denied Maxwell’s bail, despite her lawyers’ arguing she was willing to be continuously monitored by armed guards and that her appearance in court would be guaranteed by the pledging of her $22.5 million estate. 

Some information for this article came from The Associated Press and Reuters. 

 

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