Ghislaine Maxwell's Legal Team 'to Call 35 Witnesses' During Her Trial

© REUTERS / JANE ROSENBERGGhislaine Maxwell listens as defense attorney Bobbi Sternheim gives her opening statement at the start of Maxwell's trial on charges of sex trafficking, in a courtroom sketch in New York City, U.S., November 29, 2021.
Ghislaine Maxwell listens as defense attorney Bobbi Sternheim gives her opening statement at the start of Maxwell's trial on charges of sex trafficking, in a courtroom sketch in New York City, U.S., November 29, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.12.2021
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The daughter of British billionaire Robert Maxwell faces eight charges, including enticing minors as young as 14 to engage in illegal sex acts. The prosecution rested its case last week after 10 days of hearings. Attorneys portrayed Maxwell as a dangerous sexual predator, who together with Jeffrey Epstein had built a “pyramid scheme of abuse”.
Ghislaine Maxwell’s legal team is to call 35 witnesses during her trial as it prepares to present its arguments this week, the Daily Mail reported, citing court documents. According to the outlet, her lawyers have taken on the daunting task of hearing the testimonies of all witnesses in just three days.

One of Maxwell’s lawyers, Bobbi Sternheim, has asked the court to keep the identities of three witnesses secret or allow them to testify under pseudonyms.

"The court's ruling on this issue may impact the willingness of these witnesses to testify, thereby compromising Ms Maxwell's right to present her defence. We are still trying to make travel arrangements for defence witnesses, many of whom are coming from locations out of the district and abroad", Ms Sternheim said.

The names of the witnesses have not been released to the public, but reports say among them could be high-profile figures as Ghislaine Maxwell was part of the highest circles in both Britain and the United States. Among her acquaintances are former US Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, supermodel Naomi Campbell, and Queen Elizabeth’s second son, Prince Andrew. The latter is himself accused by one of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged victims, who claimed that she was trafficked to London by the financier and Maxwell when she was a minor and forced to have sex with the Duke of York.

Maxwell’s relatives are expected to testify during the trial too. Previously, her brother Ian Maxwell accused prosecutors of making Ghislaine a scapegoat for Jeffrey Epstein’s crimes for failing to bring the financier to court, a stance shared by the socialite’s legal team.

Jeffrey Epstein was arrested in July 2019 and charged with running a sex trafficking network of minors. The financier, who rubbed shoulders with presidents, prime ministers, and royals, was found hanged in prison a month after his arrest, with his death ruled a suicide. The New York City Medical Examiner’s Office concluded that his death was a suicide. However, a forensic pathologist hired by his family suggested that evidence pointed to the financier potentially having been strangled.
The women who have accused Epstein of rape and sexual abuse claim Maxwell played an invaluable role in his crime empire - she lured them into the hands of Epstein, promising well-paid jobs at the millionaire's house. Some of the women claimed that she not only groomed them, but also took part in the abuse.
She faces eight charges, including sex trafficking conspiracy and sex trafficking of a minor, as well as enticing a minor as young as 14 to engage in illegal sex acts. If found guilty, Maxwell, who is 59, may face up to 80 years in prison. She claims she is innocent. The trial began on 29 November and will last around six weeks with a brief pause over Christmas, although some reports suggest that the verdict may be announced this month.
Here are the key details of the trial:
four female accusers have testified against Maxwell. One of them, named Jane, said the former British socialite was reportedly present in the room when Jeffrey Epstein raped her. She also claimed that Epstein introduced her to former US President Donald Trump. He is not accused of wrongdoing in connection with the case;
one victim stated that Maxwell touched her bosom, hips, and buttocks as she assessed her body when she was 14. The socialite told her that she “had a great body for Mr Epstein and his friends";
another woman, who was above the age of consent when she met Epstein and Maxwell, told the court that Maxwell had asked her to find “cute, young, pretty" girls to give Epstein oral sex;
prosecutors said Epstein used body massages as a ruse to get his victims to touch him and then abuse them;
Maxwell gave Epstein's housekeeper a manual that contained rules for staff working at the financier's mansions. The booklet included instructions to "see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing, except to answer a question directed at you".
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