NEW YORK – The jury in the sex-trafficking federal trial of Ghislaine Maxwell said after about 32 hours of deliberation over five days that it was making progress but needed to resume work Wednesday morning in court. New York court.
Judge Alison Nathan on Tuesday told lawyers and jurors that the 12-member panel would work every day until they reach a verdict.
“Simply put, I conclude that proceeding this way is the best chance to give the whole jury as much time as they need and avoid confusion due to the Omicron variant,” the judge told the judges. attorney outside the jury’s presence.
The jury is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m., and Nathan has asked them to work until 6 p.m., an hour later than the first five days ended.
Maxwell, the ex-girlfriend and longtime associate of late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, has pleaded not guilty to six federal charges: sex trafficking of a minor, soliciting a minor to travel to performing illegal sex acts, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sex activity, and three conspiracy-related charges.
If convicted of all six counts, Maxwell faces 70 years in prison.
The jury, which is on Christmas break, will have to work at the end of the new year, if necessary, the judge told prosecutors and the defense team.
Nathan earlier on Tuesday expressed concern that the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant in New York City could throw off consideration.
“We are very simply in a different place with regard to the pandemic than we were just a week ago, and we are now facing a heightened and escalating risk that jurors and/or participants trial participants may need to be isolated, thereby disrupting the trial (and) jeopardizing their ability to complete this trial,” she said.
The judge then read a note from the jury that read: “Our discussions are progressing and we are making progress.”
Since the start of the deliberations, jurors have asked the court to provide transcripts of the testimony of “Jane,” “Kate,” Carolyn and Annie Farmer — four women whose claims are at the heart of their case. the case against Maxwell.
The jury also requested transcripts of testimony from four other witnesses: Juan Alessi, the manager of Maxwell’s home; “Matt,” Jane’s ex-boyfriend; Gregory Parkinson, a former Palm Beach Police crime scene manager who was present during a 2005 search of Epstein’s home in Palm Beach, Florida; and David Rogers, a pilot for Epstein and Maxwell.
On Monday, the jury asked for the definition of “sedition,” as part of two of the charges, and sent the judge a question about the travel-related allegation against one of the defendants. accuser.
Discussions limited to a three-week trial were highlighted by the testimony of four women, who say Maxwell recruited and prepared them to be sexually abused by Epstein and at times engaged in that abuse. The abuse allegedly began when they were under 18, and their allegations go back to 1994 to 2004.
Epstein, an elusive financier who pleaded guilty in 2008 to state prostitution charges, was indicted on federal sex trafficking charges in July 2019; he died by suicide in prison a month later.
Maxwell, now 60, was arrested in 2020 and has been held behind bars ever since under close supervision.
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The prosecution called 24 witnesses over 10 days to testify. Their case primarily focused on four women with personal stories about Maxwell’s alleged role in facilitating Epstein’s abuse.
Jane, testifying under a pseudonym, said Maxwell provided sex massages with Epstein and sometimes participated in the abuse. The charges of solicitation and transportation relate only to her testimony.
Carolyn testified that when she was 14, Maxwell touched her breasts, hips and buttocks and told her she “had a great body for Epstein and his friends.” The number of child sex trafficking charges – the most serious of all charges – relates to her testimony.
Kate testified that Maxwell invited her to come and teach her how to give Epstein an aphrodisiac massage. She said Maxwell regularly talked about sex with her and asked Kate to invite other young girls because of Epstein’s sexual desires.
Farmer, the only accuser to testify by her full name, said she was 16 years old when Maxwell massaged her topless breasts at Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico in 1996.
Prosecutors sought close links between Maxwell and Epstein and said her actions to normalize sex massage were a decisive factor in his scheme to international abuse at the institutions. His residences are in New York, Florida, New Mexico and the US Virgin Islands.
“A single middle-aged man who invited a teenage girl to visit his ranch, come to his house and fly to New York, was terrifying,” prosecutor Alison Moe said in the conclusion. “But when that man is accompanied by a classy, smiley, respectable, age-appropriate woman, that’s when things start to seem legit.
“And when that woman encourages those girls to massage that man, when she acts like it’s perfectly normal for a man to touch those girls, that lures them in.” a trap. It allows the man to turn off the alarm.”
The defense called nine witnesses over two days to testify. Their case focused on the cross-examination that spanned the four accusers, attacking their motives and memories of the alleged incidents. Maxwell refused to testify.
During the final arguments, attorney Laura Menninger sought to separate Maxwell from Epstein and allege that he also manipulated her. She said the prosecution’s case was based on speculation and distracting photos of Maxwell with Epstein, including some showing her giving him a foot massage.
“She’s on trial here for being with Jeffrey Epstein, and it was probably the biggest mistake of her life – but it’s not a crime,” Menninger told the jury.
Menninger also suggested that whistleblowers coordinate new facts and details to fit the government’s case.
“It’s called post-event cue. And that’s what happened in this case. Each of these women spoke to many individuals, watched the media, shared their stories. them, talk to their lawyers. And we’re talking about things that supposedly happened 25 years ago,” Menninger said.