The long-awaited lawsuit against convicted sex smuggler Jeffrey Epstein’s confidant Ghislaine Maxwell, which kicks off on Monday, can be compared to an iceberg – many of the unanswered questions about their alleged business will remain hidden until further notice.
Maxwell, a British socialite who insists she is innocent, is unlikely to face questions about allegedly helping Epstein arrange “dates” with women over the age of 18 for a constellation of rich and powerful men. She is also unlikely to be questioned about the allegations from an alleged victim who said in a civil lawsuit that Maxwell traded her to Britain’s Prince Andrew when she was 17. He has denied the allegations.
Nor is it likely that the prosecution will be allowed to dive too deep into the social and business relationships between Epstein, a multimillionaire financier, with other bold names like former presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump and Ohio billionaire Leslie Wexner.
Instead, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan of New York’s Southern District has limited the reach of federal prosecutors by focusing the case against the suspected British socialite, specifically on allegations that she helped Epstein recruit and abuse four underage girls. in the 1990ies.
“This will be a narrow slice of what happened,” said Attorney General Dan Kaiser, who represents several alleged Epstein victims, though no one is involved in this particular trial. “This is a ring that caught dozens and dozens and dozens of girls. And Maxwell was an integrated player. You could say she was Epstein’s operations manager.”
Opening statements in a lawsuit expected to last six weeks begin Monday. And the four now adult women will take a stand and testify against Maxwell, prosecutors have said.
Epstein was found dead in August 2019 in a Manhattan jail while awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking. His death was condemned as a suicide.
“Maxwell was at the center of that sex trade ring,” alleged Epstein victim Jennifer Araoz told NBC News after Maxwell was arrested in July 2020 at her luxurious hideout in Bedford, New Hampshire.
NBC News generally does not identify rape victims, but Araoz published in an interview in July 2019, where she said she was 15 when Epstein raped her. She has sued Maxwell, claiming that she and other employees “conspired with each other to enable and otherwise facilitate the sexual abuse and rape of plaintiff.” Maxwell has repeatedly denied the charges against her.
Araoz is not one of the women expected to testify against Maxwell, all of whom will only be identified at trial with their initials. She is represented by Kaiser.
Maxwell’s older brother, Ian, has said his sister is a “patsy” and that federal investigators only turned to her after Epstein hanged himself.
“They lost him, so there has to be someone to pay the price. There has to be patsy. Ghislaine pays that price, and she pays it every day,” he said in a CBS News interview in November.
Not true, the prosecutor has said.
“Maxwell played a crucial role in helping Epstein identify, befriend and groom minor victims of abuse,” then-U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss told reporters after Maxwell was arrested. “In some cases, Maxwell himself participated in the abuse.”
Maxwell faces eight criminal counts related to alleged efforts to lure minors to travel and engage in illegal sexual acts, conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and sex trafficking conspiracy.
If Maxwell, 59, who is detained without bail in a Brooklyn jail, is convicted on all counts, he risks years in prison.
In a 24-page second substitute indictment, prosecutors claimed that from 1994 to 2004, Maxwell “assisted, facilitated, and contributed” to Epstein’s abuse of underage girls by recruiting them, caring for them, and ultimately sexually abusing the victims themselves.
The victims were as young as 14 when she and Epstein sexually abused them, prosecutors claim.
Both Epstein and Maxwell knew some of the victims were minors, prosecutors say. And as part of her alleged plan, prosecutors say, Maxwell worked with Epstein to lure the minor victims to travel to his luxury homes across the globe.
The abuse allegedly took place in Epstein’s luxury homes in Palm Beach, Florida; Santa Fe, New Mexico; and on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, prosecutors have said.
The youngest daughter of British press baron Robert Maxwell, who drowned in 1991, Maxwell also faces two charges of perjury in connection with a handover in a civil case in 2016. The indictment claims that when Maxwell was questioned about her involvement in the alleged abuse and human trafficking. , she lied under oath.
But Nathan has cut off these charges of perjury from this trial.
Maxwell was arrested a year after Epstein was caught at a New Jersey airport after returning from Paris on a private jet.
According to a government proposal that opposed Maxwell’s request for release on bail, her arrest had a bit of drama.
After FBI agents broke into the gate of her home in New Hampshire and then asked her private security guards to open the front door, agents allegedly saw Maxwell try to escape.
“The agents saw the defendant ignore the instruction to open the door and instead try to flee to another room in the house and quickly close a door behind her,” the court papers state.
Agents forced the door open and eventually found Maxwell inside the house, according to the court document.
Her lawyers argued in court papers that she lived in seclusion to protect herself and her family members from “relentless and intrusive media coverage.”
In clarifications in a civil case, Epstein’s former masseurs, staff and staff have painted a portrait of Maxwell as the main creator of a serial sexual predator.
The alleged Epstein victim Virginia Roberts Giuffre stated in a “Dateline” interview in September 2019 that Maxwell lured her into the financier’s web.
At the time, Giuffre said she worked as a locker room assistant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and happened to be reading a book on massage therapy when she was “approached by this beautiful, eloquent, well-behaved woman with an English accent, prim and proper.”
“And she says it’s so funny you’re reading a book about it, because I know this older gentleman looking for a traveling masseur,” Giuffre recalled. “He’s super rich. He flies around everywhere.”
But by the end of her first visit to Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion, Giuffre said, Maxwell had manipulated her into having sex with her boss.
And soon, Giuffre said, she found herself being traded by Maxwell and Epstein to rich and powerful men like Andrew.
Regardless of the outcome of the trial, the fact that Epstein is no more, and Maxwell has been put on trial, is already a consolation to some of their prosecutors.
“Now that the ring has been taken down, I know I can not be hurt anymore,” Araoz said.