The highly-anticipated trial of former Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell on sex trafficking charges has begun in Manhattan.
The jury set to hear the case was selected this morning, Monday, November 29, with opening arguments set to take place this afternoon.
Over the next six weeks,the prosecution is expected to accuse Maxwell of recruiting and grooming girls, some of whom were as young as 14, for her former partner, Epstein.
The abuse is alleged to have occurred over a 10-year period between 1994 and 2004. She denies the charges, telling the court at a recent hearing, ‘I have not committed any crimes.’
Maxwell, 59, was arrested in July 2020, a year after Epstein was arrested and 10 months after he died by suicide while awaiting trial in a Manhattan jail in August 2019.
She was charged with enticement and conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, transportation and conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity for allegedly grooming and recruiting underage girls. Two new sex-trafficking charges related to interactions with a 14 year old girl in Palm Beach, Florida were added by prosecutors at a later date, per CNN.
Among the accusations faced by Maxwell are claims that she ‘groomed’ victims ‘to engage in sexual acts with Epstein through multiple means’ and ‘sought to normalize inappropriate and abusive conduct’. Reuters reports that if convicted, the 59-year-old could face up to 80 years in prison.
Maxwell’s defence team has argued that she is being used as a ‘scapegoat’ for Epstein, who died before he could face trial. She has spent more than a year in federal jail after being deemed a flight risk by a Judge who has denied her bail on multiple occasions.
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