Closing arguments in the sex-trafficking trial of Ghislaine Maxwell began on Monday, in Manhattan federal court.
“She was a grown woman who preyed on vulnerable kids,” prosecutor Alison Moe told jurors.
“She targeted a girl whose father had just died. She targeted a girl whose mother was an alcoholic. She targeted a girl with a single mom who was struggling to raise her daughters.”
Maxwell, 59, was arrested in New Hampshire in July 2020 for her alleged involvement in the sexual abuse of minor teens by Jeffrey Epstein, her longtime boyfriend. The financier and convicted sex offender was arrested in July 2019 for crimes against girls as young as 14.
Epstein, who mixed with powerful associates including Prince Andrew and former presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, killed himself in custody in New York about a month after his arrest.
Maxwell has pleaded innocent to all charges.
“She manipulated her victims and she groomed them for sexual abuse,” Moe said on Monday. “She caused deep and lasting harm to young girls.”
Prosecutors say Maxwell’s romantic relationship with Epstein, said to span from the early 1990s until the early 2000s, was proof of her complicity.
“Maxwell and Epstein were partners,” Moe said. “They were partners in crime who sexually exploited young girls together.
“Ladies and gentlemen, when you’re with someone for 11 years, you know what they like. Jeffrey Epstein liked underage girls. He liked to touch underage girls. Maxwell knew it.”
Moe pointed to photos introduced at trial that showed Epstein and Maxwell with “doting looks on their faces”. The photos showed them standing “cheek-to-cheek, arms wrapped around each other”.
She then showed jurors two startling pictures: one of Maxwell and Epstein swimming naked in a pool, the other of Maxwell “massaging his foot with her breasts”.
Maxwell’s role as Epstein’s house manager gave still more evidence of her involvement in his predatory sexual massages, Moe said.
“She managed all the details down to the lotion and the oils,” Moe said. “She was in on the whole thing.
“Remember that you see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing,” Moe added, referring to a household manual which Maxwell gave staff at Epstein’s mansion in Palm Beach, Florida. “In that house, behind closed doors, Maxwell and Epstein were committing horrifying crimes.”
After closing arguments, the judge, Alison Nathan, will instruct jurors on the law and what it requires when they weigh the charges. Deliberations could start on Monday. Maxwell, the daughter of the late press baron Robert Maxwell, pleaded not guilty on six counts.
Lawyers appeared before Nathan on Saturday for a charging conference, to confirm the judge’s instructions to jurors. Revisions included Nathan referring to Maxwell as “Ms Maxwell” when addressing the jury. Normally, the accused is referred to as “the defendant” in jury instructions.
On Friday, when Nathan asked if she wanted to testify in her own defense, Maxwell pointed to her claim of innocence.
“Your honor,” she said, “the government has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and so there is no need for me to testify.”
Nathan warned both sides that she wanted all outstanding issues ironed out, telling them: “I don’t want objections during closings.”
Maxwell’s team has maintained that she is a scapegoat for Epstein, who cannot be prosecuted because he is dead. On Friday, Nathan told Maxwell’s lawyers: “There will be no argument on the government’s motivations.”