Jury in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial signals they are focused on accusers’
Maxwell, Epstein’s former girlfriend and longtime associate, has pleaded not guilty to six federal counts, including sex trafficking of a minor, enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and three related counts of conspiracy.
If convicted on all six counts, the 59-year-old faces up to 70 years in prison.
Just before 3 p.m., jurors then asked the court for the FBI notes from a 2007 interview with Carolyn. The document is not in evidence, so the judge wrote a response to the jurors explaining that they have everything that’s available in evidence. Still, some excerpts from the FBI notes were read into the record during Carolyn’s cross-examination.
In that cross-examination, the defense pointed to statements in those FBI notes that they said were inconsistent with Carolyn’s testimony. In particular, they noted that Carolyn did not mention Maxwell in that 2007 interview.
“Miss Maxwell was not the topic of discussion at that time,” Carolyn testified in court. “The only thing Miss Maxwell was involved in was fondling and touching my breasts and my buttocks and for that my soul is broken and so is my heart.”
Further, jurors sent another note at 4:30 p.m. asking if they can consider Farmer’s testimony for the counts of conspiracy to entice a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts and conspiracy to transport a minor with the intent to engage in illegal sex acts.
Judge Nathan said she will respond to the jury, “The answer is yes, you may consider it.”
During Farmer’s testimony on December 10, the judge told jurors that they could consider Farmer’s testimony but said it did not constitute illegal sexual activity as charged in the indictment.
The jury ended their deliberations for the day at 5 p.m. and will resume Wednesday morning at 9 a.m.
What happened at the trial
In its closing argument, the prosecution said Maxwell’s close relationship with Epstein and manipulative actions were key to the international abuse scheme at his properties in New York, Florida, New Mexico and the US Virgin Islands.
“A single middle-aged man who invites a teenage girl to visit his ranch, to come to his house, to fly to New York, is creepy,” prosecutor Allison Moe told jurors. “But when that man is accompanied by a posh, smiling, respectable, age-appropriate woman, that’s when everything starts to seem legitimate.
“And when that woman encourages those girls to massage that man, when she acts like it’s totally normal for the man to touch those girls. It lures them into a trap. It allows the man to silence the alarm bells.”
In the defense’s closing argument, attorney Laura Menninger sought to distance Maxwell from Epstein and suggested he had manipulated her as well. She said the prosecution’s case is based on speculation and distracting photos of Maxwell with Epstein, including several that show her giving him a foot massage.
“She’s being tried here for being with Jeffrey Epstein, and maybe that was the biggest mistake of her life — but it was not a crime,” Menninger told the jury.
Menninger also went through the testimony of each accuser and highlighted inconsistencies in their timelines and their previous interviews with law enforcement in which two of the victims, Carolyn and “Jane,” did not mention Maxwell.
The attorney suggested they misremembered what happened and said they may have changed their stories for money.
“Why would you go decades without mentioning Ghislaine Maxwell and suddenly, when you have your personal injury lawyer, you add her to the mix?” Menninger said.
Prosecutor Maurene Comey rejected those arguments in a rebuttal that alluded to broader societal and economic forces at play in this case.
“The defendant never thought that those teenage girls would have the strength to report what happened. In her eyes, they were just trash beneath her,” she said. “Those girls would never stand up to a power couple like Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell. And if they did, who would believe them?”
CNN’s Holly Yan, Dakin Andone and Travis Caldwell contributed to this report.