Opening statements are set to begin today in the case against Ghislaine Maxwell, 59, in a Manhattan federal court.
The trial is not streamed live, as federal courts generally do not allow broadcasting or still photographing cameras according to the Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure.
Maxwell has pleaded not guilty of six counts related to Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of teen girls between 1994 and 2004:
- conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts,
- enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts,
- conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity,
- transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity,
- sex trafficking conspiracy,
- and sex trafficking of a minor.
The indictment cites four accusers, and does not include Virginia Giuffre, a longtime Epstein accuser. Those four accusers are expected to testify.
“Most criminal defendants are men in these these sorts of sexual predator cases,” said Moira Penza, a former federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, New York. “This case is unusual because we have a female defendant.”
The defense is expected to attack the credibility of the accusers, and to suggest Maxwell is a scapegoat who may have been effectively controlled herself by the rich and powerful Epstein.
But painting Maxwell as a victim herself of Epstein may backfire tremendously with a jury.
Moira Penza, a former federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, said, “I think a lot of women will be particularly offended by her because I think, when you see this older women involved in this alleged grooming of younger women or underage girls, it’s such a corruption of what people want to see as a woman’s role of being more maternal and protective,” she said. “I think that there are a lot of women who will have a very negative reaction, not only to the actions that Ms. Maxwell took, but also any defense that tries to portray herself as a victim when there are so many true victims.”
United States District Judge Alison Nathan was appointed to the federal bench by former president Barack Obama in 2011. Prior to serving as a federal judge, she clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, worked as counsel for the attorney general of New York and was an associate White House counsel and special assistant for Obama.Miami Herald